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iruiih smrtih saddcdruh xvasya ca priijamdimunah 
samyak sanihalpajah ltdmo dhannainulainidani 
i'ii paramo dltarnin yadyoycnalmudarsanain. 

YajHav(tllcya~flinfti 9 i. 

The scriptures, the sacred traditions, the practices of thr 
the inclinations of a spiritually purifiod mind, and th vo\\s 
proceeding from right resolve are known as the sources of dharnnt 
(ethical religion). Homage to God, pure conduct, self-control, non- 
injury, charity and scriptural study are all religious acts, but above 1 , 
them all stands self-knowledge through concentrated meditation. 

veda vibhinnah suirtayo viWmnalj, 
nasan vnmiryasya wataqi na bliinnaw. 
dharamsya iatlvam nihiiairi guhayam 
mahdjano ycna gatah sa panthdh. 

The scriptures are diverse, the sacred traditions are different, and 
no law-giver is worth the name unless he has a view of his own. The 
essence of dharna lies deeply hidden, and the proper path cf duty is 
as traversed by the spiritually great. 











Beg. No. 907B March, 1938-A 







*&[ \ 



The invitation extended to me in 1932 by the Senate of 
the, University of Calcutta to deliver the Stephanos Nirnialendu 
(ihosh Lectures for the year 1933 has enabled me to complete 
a long cherished project, namely, to write an Introduction to 
Comparative Religion for the benefit of my own students at 
the Dacca University and also students of other Universities 
who have to read Positive Religion as a part of their course in 
Philosophy of Religion. So far back as 1928-29, I contri- 
buted to the Philosophical Quarterly (published by the Indian 
Institute of Philosophy, Amalner, Bombay Presidency) three 
papers on The Foundations of Living Faiths as a part of the 
opening chapter of my projected work. For one reason or 
other I could not continue that scries, and it is doubtful if this 
systematic work on that subject would have seen the light 
of day had not this timely offer come to me from my alma 

In asking me to deliver the Lectures the University made 
a departure from the tradition established in the past. Up 
till then the Lectures had been invariably delivered by distin- 
guished foreigners, all of whom had made their mark in their 
particular field of work by substantial productions. Although 
1 had published a fairly large number of psychological, philo- 
sophical and theological papers I did not have to my credit 
any large or systematic work ; and as I had not crossed the 
seas, whatever reputation I possessed as a writer and a speaker 
was confined within the limits of India. There was, in fact, 
no glamour of novelty about me for I belonged to the province 
and had received all my education in the University itself. To 
appoint such a person to what might not inaptly be called the 
Indian Gifford Lectureship required a good deal of confidence 
in my ability on the part of the Committee of Selection ; I am 


happy to think that the founder of the Lectureship, who at- 
tended the meeting of the Selection Committee, shared the 
confidence which the members of that Committee reposed in 
me. Some of the members of the Committee had later 
on an opportunity of judging for themselves whether 
their choice was fully justified when they came to preside 
over my lectures; my only regret is that the founder 
could not be present at any of the lectures on account of 
an illness at the time of their delivery. It is not for me 
to say to what extent 1 have succeeded in deserving the 
confidence of the University of Calcutta; but 1 have spared 
neither labour nor thought in the discharge of my onerous 
duties as the lecturer with whom the University began the 
experiment of trying Indians for this work. I need not add 
how grateful 1 am to the Calcutta University for giving me 
this opportunity of expressing my thoughts on a subject which 
is of abiding interest to all thinking minds and of profound 
meaning for the spiritual life of every religious community. 

I am much flattered to think that the distinction of a 
fairly orthodox Brahmin being appointed to a Christian en- 
dowment during the regime of a Muslim Vice-Chancellor 
should have fallen first on me. By a curious coincidence I 
had the unique privilege of being born in one of the greatest 
strongholds of Sanskrit learning and Hindu orthodoxy in 
Bengal, of being educated in one of the oldest Missionary 
Colleges of Calcutta, and of spending the greater part of my 
teaching career at one of the most important centres of Muslim 
culture in India. This accidental combination not only gave 
me opportunities of studying at close quarters the daily lives 
of the adherents of three of the most important positive reli- 
gions of the world but also enabled me to understand and ap- 
preciate the springs of religious action in the communities 
concerned and to note the many obstacles social, personal 
and dogmatic that stand in the way of interconimuual har- 
mony and of a calm and critical examination of different 
faiths,' including their own, by members of these com- 
munities. Beceiving niy early training in practical religion 
under a deeply religious and learned father who combined a 


reverence for his ancestral creed with a toleration of all sincere 
faiths, of whatever stamp they might be, and my later train- 
ing in theology from an equally pious Christian teacher who 
had the deepest regard for all genuine religions, I have realised 
the possibility of allying personal orthodoxy with broad sym- 
pathy for other modes of belief. 

If T have occasionally criticised any religion, it is not to 
Inirt the feelings but to quicken the thoughts of its followers ; 
and in this I have made no distinction between Brahmauism 
which T personally profess and other religions followed by 
other people 1 . My criticisms Im^o proceeded from a genuine 
conviction that all the living religions possess good points 
some more, some less of which they may be legitimately 
proud but that none is perfect in spite of all that its adherents 
may claim on its behalf and that all are capable of develop- 
ment in diverse degrees and directions. This is why T have 
been constrained to criticise more than once the doctrine of 
Final Revelation, which, in spite of its value for social soli- 
darity, is a serious obstacle to the development of individual 
faith and communal toleration. I have also made no secret 
of my belief that most, if not all, religions fight ignorance 
half-heartedly for fear lest a wide-spread culture should mean 
the disowning of all obligations and, with the exten- 
sion of secular ideas and practices, a gradual loss of influence 
of those now in spiritual power over the uneducated masses. 
T have not subscribed, however, to the view that religion as a 
distinctive attitude towards life and reality is ultimately 
destined to pass away with the growth of education and the 
development of industry. 

While T am painfully conscious of my limited readings 
on account of my inability to handle any foreign re- 
ligious literature except in English, even of that lite- 
rature in the English language I had only a narrow 
range in this small provincial University which was 
established only seventeen years ago. In fact, but 
for a number of happy accidents my study would have been 
less wide and deep for the purpose of discussing certain 
fundamental problems. The Dacca College, out of which the 


University of Dacca was developed, had a long succession 
of European Principals and Professors, and the pre- 
sent collection on Hebrew and Christian theology in the 
University Library is mostly due to them. The Dacca College 
was also in regular receipt of copies of books presented to the 
Department of Education, Bengal, by various bodies for dis- 
tribution, and most of the books on Zoroastrianism (including 
some rare books) came into the possession of the University 
through that channel. Through the efforts of the first Profes- 
sors in Sanskrit and Bengali, History, Arabic and Islamic 
Studies, and Philosophy a decent collection of books on Indian 
and Islamic religions in their different aspects and on Philo- 
sophy of Eeligion had also been made in the earlier years of 
the newly founded University. Without this nucleus of litera- 
ture it would have been extremely difficult for me to make 
much headway in the subject chosen ; still, 1 had to wait often 
for weeks and months together to get necessary l>ooks out from 
England, specially new publications and books out of print. 
A word of thanks is due to Mr. Manoranjan Roy, M.A., B.L., 
Librarian of the Dacca University, and to his staff for the ex- 
pedition with which they collected, catalogued and issued 
books needed by me and for the wide latitude they gave me 
about the number of books taken out at a time. Among friends 
who helped me with the loan or gift of books which are, now 
absolutely out of print, [ record with gratitude the names of 
Lt.-Col. A. R. Owen Berkeley Hill, M.D., T.M.S. (Retd.), 
late Superintendent of the European Mental Hospital, Ranch! , 
and Prof. A. R. Wadia of the Mysore University. 

The administrative duties of the Dean of the Faculty of 
Arts at the Dacca University with which I was saddled at the 
time made the delivery of the Lectures impossible before the 
closing months of 1934. Eleven lectures in all were delivered 
between 20th November and 17th December, 1934. The 
present volume incorporates tho materials of the first six. In 
the present volume, however, I have not only broken up some 
single lectures into two or more chapters for convenience of 
treatment but also deviated slightly from the order of tho lec- 
tures as delivered. Owing to the exigency of time the lecture 

on Zoroastrianism was not delivered at all. Following my 
usual practice, I delivered tlje entire series of lectures extem- 
pore in order to be better able to adjust my discourse to the 
actual audience of the day. The text of the present volume 
has remained unaltered since its composition in 1933-34 ; but 
I have utilised the enforced delay in publication in consulting 
some recent literature on the subject and adding a few foot- 
notes here and there. 

I am happy to have been able to deliver the opening lec- 
ture under the chairmanship of Mr. Syamaprusad Mookerjee, 
M.A., B.L., Barrister-at-Law, M.L.A., the present Vice- 
Chancellor of the Calcutta University. Not only do T owe to 
him personally a debt for encouragement and assistance in con- 
nection with the lectureship but T also owe to his illustrious 
father, the late Sir Asutosh Mookerjee, my migration from 
the. staff of the Scottish Churches College (as it was then 
called) to the Philosophy and Experimental Psychology De- 
partments of the Calcutta University in 1917, which ultimate- 
ly facilitated the transfer of my services to Dacca in 1921. 
The other lectures were presided over by two High Court 
Judges, one ex-Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University, 
four University Professors and three Principals of affiliated 

To Professors G. H. Langley (late Vice-Chancellor of 
the Dacca University), J. W. Fuck Gate of the Department 
of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Dncra University, and now of 
the University of Frankfurt Am Main), A. B. Wadia (of the 
Mysore University) and S. P. Bhattacharyya (of the Presi- 
dency College, Calcutta) T am grateful for 'their looking over 
some individual lectures in manuscript and for suggesting 
improvements in the text here and there. None is, however, 
responsible for the views herein expressed. To my colleagues 
Professor Dr. S. M. Hossein of the Department of Arabic and 
Jfllnmio Studies, Mr. P. K. Guha of the Department of Eng- 
Jish, and Dr. B. N. Ray of the Department of Philosophy, I 
am indebted for occasional assistance in correcting the proof- 
sheets. To Mr. Guha, I am further indebted for saving me 
from many pitfalls in literary expression whenever I had 


any doubt about the propriety of any word or the elegance of 
any language I invariably turned to him for advice and assist- 
ance and always with profit. Such solecisms as still remain 
are due entirely to me. 

I would be failing in my duty if I do not close this pre- 
face with a word of praise for the staff of the Calcutta Univer- 
sity Press. If there has been an inordinate delay in the pub- 
lication of the present volume, it is due mainly to my pre-occu- 
pation with official duties and occasionally to my illness. 
Expert assistance in the correction of the proof-sheets has been 
most ungrudgingly given by the Press staff, and exasperating 
last-minute additions and alterations have been cheerfully in- 
corporated to enable me to produce as perfect a book as I am 
capable of. I only regret that in order to prevent any further 
delay in publication it should be found necessary to send the 
present volume out without an index. Let me hope that the 
second volume will take less time to see the light of day : a 
fairly full index of the two volumes will be added there. 

5th February, 1938 H. D. BHATTACHAKYYA 



T. The Living Faiths ... ... 1 

II. The Prophets ... ... 40 

III. The Bevelations ... 91 

IV. The Gods of Hinduism : Vedic ... 151 
V. The Gods of Hinduism : Pauranic ...202 

VT. God in Judaism ... ...249 

VI F. God in Christianity ... ... 312 

I. God in Islam ... 347 

IX. God in /oroastrianism : Gathic ... 413 

X. God in /oroastrianism : Post-Gathie ... 473 



No one can take up the subject of Eeligion without a 
certain trepidation of heart. Of all the adventures which 
the human mind has undertaken, the adventure of faith is 
one of the oldest and the most formidable. In other fields of 
knowledge and activity the quest is likely to be attended by 
some degree of sure conquest, and personal conviction backed 
by social confirmation. In religion, on the other hand, man 
grapples with problems that relate primarily to his solitari- 
ness, 1 so that although in primitive forms of religion 
the social factor is the dominating feature of faith, in more 
advanced religions personal conviction plays the leading role 
and even social ostracism and religious oppression often fail 
to secure apostasy. It is a mystery and a marvel that for the 
impalpable entities of faith men should willingly sacrifice the 
concrete pleasures of the world that for the uncertain bless- 
ings of Eternity men should cheerfully abandon the certain 
joys of the Temporal. 

Certain it is that all through the ages man has professed 
to find in religion the one point of rest amidst the fluxes of 
worldly life "the heart of peace" in the whirlwind of tem- 
poral existence. As Hegel says, 2 " Eeligion is for our con- 
sciousness that region in which all the enigmas of the world 

1 See Whitehead, Religion in the Making, p. 6; Pratt, The Religious Con- 
sciousness, p. 12. 

I Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion (Eng. Tr.), Vol. I, p. 1. 


are solved, all the contradictions of deeper-reaching thought 
have their meaning unveiled, and where the voice of the 
heart's pain is silenced the region of eternal truth, of 
eternal rest, of eternal peace. 5 ' Or, as an Eastern 
sage has it, 

bhidyate hrdayagranthi&hidyante sarmsa^ayoh 
k?iyante casya karmarii tasmin drstc paravare 

All the cords of (secular) affection (lit. the heart) are snap- 
ped, all doubts are dispelled, and all activities find their rest of 
him who has seen the Lord (lit. the Greatest and the Small- 
est). In other words, all the faculties of the soul profess to find 
their rest assured and their difficulties solved in religion. 3 
It is not indeed contended that all religions have been equally 
successful in bringing about the desired consummation or 
that even in the most devout the religious mood or attitude 
may not be occasionally clouded by doubts and worldly consi- 
derations, 4 But that in spite of the many solicitations from' 
the environment, to which his senses are constantly sub- 
jected, man is able to rise above temporal considerations even 
in exceptional cases is sufficient proof that in his case the 
spirit can be stronger than the flesh. It is interesting too 
that from the very time of his appearance the man of religion 
has ever been accorded a pre-eminence in all stages of culture 
and regarded as possessing something additional, to which 
ordinary individuals can lay no claim. The shaman, the 
medicine man, the priest and the prophet have always been 
the object of popular reverence and been treated with marked 
deference. Their utterances and activities have been follow-, 
ed with interest, awe, respect and wonder, whenever they 
have been regarded as acting in their religious capacity. 

Cf. C. Q. Jang, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p. 266 : " It seems to 
me, that, side by eide with the decline of religious life, the neuroses grow 
noticeably more freauent." 

* See, for instance, Mark 15.84; Mattthew 26.96-44; also Pratt, The Religion? 


That this should be so need cause no wonder, for religion 
has at all times been noted for releasing energies otherwise 
inaccessible to the individual. The consciousness of being in 
alliance with supernatural powers has invariably tended to 
elevate the individual not only in the estimation of the social 
group to which he belongs but also in his own estimation. In 
primitive forms of faith, the man of God (or of the super- 
natural powers) is characterised by the abundance of his ener- 
gy his frenzied dance and ceaseless movements, his weird 
magic and rapid and incoherent speech, his restless activity 
and insensitiveness to suffering, tend to cause awe and 
astonishment in the beholders. How else can a man com- 
mune with, appease and control the supernatural powers or 
use them in the interest of the social group ! It is now a 
commonplace of psychology that an individual's isolated be- 
haviour is different from that in a group or a crowd : a general 
depression of the intellectual faculties and a consequent with- 
drawal of mental control release the emotional and volitional 
energies, which thereby assume exaggerated dimensions . In 
the social forms of religious phenomena, whether in savage 
gatherings or in revival meetings, the same forces are in 
operation and the individual responds to the environment 
with an accentuated reaction. But even when alone with 
his gods, the individual displays peculiar reactions : is he not 
in the presence of powers who, though unseen, are yet not 
insensitive to his supplications and manipulations? He feels 
impelled to transcend the physical and mental limitations of 
finitude, which make him an unworthy or imperfect vehicle 
of divine expression, not always by deliberate practice but 
very often in a spontaneous fashion. The instincts in opera- 
tion during religious exercises liberate energies and expres- 
sions which cannot otherwise be commanded, and these 
are of such a peculiar nature that a cold-blooded rehearsal 
of them in the absence of the sense of divine presence 
is an impossibility. Popular wisdom has embodied this 
experience in the adage, " Faith can remove mountains." 
11 Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith, and doubt not, ye 
shall not only do what is done to the fig tree, but even if ye 


shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into 
the sea, it shall be done." 6 Here, more than anywhere else, 
a wavering mind begets an unsteady limb. Did not Peter 
begin to sink the moment he doubted the words of Jesus that 
he would be able to walk upon the waters? 6 

The intellectual powers too are supposed to get greater 
insight into the mysteries of existence. Being in tune with 
the Infinite, the religious man sees farther into reality than 
ordinary mortals. Things that are disjointed and evil are 
made whole and good to his understanding. Most often the 
knowledge is of the mystical kind ineffable, emotional and 
incapable of communication to others. It is certainly not 
scientific knowledge involving strenuous thinking and minute- 
ly articulated in its details. The world is presented to the 
religious man in its broad outlines, in an instantaneous ex- 
posure of its fundamental scheme or plan, in its spiritual 
significance. The portals of heaven open up to him the vision 
of things unseen; his utterances have a strange fire; his pene- 
trating glance sees through the hollow shows and senseless 
formalities of everyday respectability. 7 He is the interpreter 
of divine wishes, the oracle of divine wisdom, the herald of 
divine justice. When his credentials are established, he is 

6 Mat. 21. Of. Lk. 17.6; Pratt, The Religious Consciousness, pp. 173-4. 
6 Mat. 15. 28-81. On the whole subject, see EBB. viii. 246-7, 260; xii. 753. 
1 The " truths " which the mystics carry away with them from the ecstasy, 
or hold more firmly because of the ecstasy, differ with different individuate. Their 
general tendency, as Professor James points out, is towards optimism and monism. 
Professor Ewer enumerates several of them as follows: " That reality is unitary 
and divine; that ordinary experience is merely phenomenal, its content only im- 
perfectly known; that its limitations and contradictions are transcended in true 
knowledge; that in such knowledge the soul, which is the key to reality, rises to 
identity with God and infinite vision; that the Divine Presence may be found 
hidden in the midst of daily life; that the real is ultimately good, and sin only 

negative, a privation, unreal.'* 

We must, however, be careful to distinguish between the content of the 
intuition which takes place during the ecstasy, and the truths which the 

mystic comes to believe as a result of reflecting upon his experience And if I 

am not greatly mistaken, a large number of the " mystic truths " BO called as, 
for instance, several of those quoted above from Dr. Ewer are due to secondary 
reflection rather than to immediate intuition. Pratt, The Religious Consciousness* 
pp. 407-8 


heard with respect; his prophecies and imprecations are 
watched for fulfilment with interest and awe; his warnings, 
even when unheeded, provoke uneasy thoughts. He general- 
ly exhibits in his own life the triumph of spirit over flesh as 
befitting one who has risen above the worldly plane. Begard- 
less of consequences, he dares to attack age-long prejudices, 
io offend social susceptibilities and to throw social decorum 
to the winds. 

It should not be forgotten, however, that all religious 
temperaments are not of the same type that between the 
contemplative recluse and the fighting preacher all shades of 
differeijjfe may be observed. Broadly speaking, to one class 
religion is an individual problem, if not alse a personal en- 
joyment; while to the other class religion is a serious call to 
social duty. The arhat in Buddhism aims at his own salva- 
tion he wants to get rid of the personal ills of this life, and 
that by becoming a lamp unto himself. He is too much pre- 
occupied with his own troubles to have time and energy left 
to attend actively to the troubles of others. He is an intro- 
spective introvert, given to self-analysis and comparatively 
prone to religious selfishness. In him the dynamic functions 
work imperfectly, social feelings a*e defective or " the native 
hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought. ' ' 
He accepts the principle of minimum responsibility in life; 
he has an accentuated or exaggerated sense of his personal 
illumination; and he disowns the importance and the need 
of the society which gave him being and upbringing. His 
instinct is that of a drowning man or a man trapped in a 
house in flames to him personal safety is the only imme- 
diate consideration. Eeligious history is replete with 
instances of saintly individuals who have been sought by a 
suffering world as ideals but who have not done anything 
actively to disseminate the secret of their spiritual success. If 
ever they condescend to remain within the access of society, 
wisdom can sometimes be wrung out of their reluctant mouths 
by the questioning multitude; but when left alone or uninter- 
rogated, they prefer to let their wisdom and their way of peace 
die with them and leave no record behind. 


Entirely different from the above is the ideal of life 
pursued by the other class. The strenuous life of a teacher 
and preacher is what they choose by a kind of inborn disposi- 
tion. Tolerant large-heartedness towards human frailty and 
intolerant attitude towards unethical and irreligious life may 
both act as motives. Their faith in the ultimate triumph of re- 
ligion is supplemented by a firm belief in the ultimate good- 
ness of human nature and an unbounded charity towards weak 
souls, steeped in ignorance, sloth and wickedness. Like 
Zarathustra, they are fighters against lie and evil not only in 
their own lives but also in those of others; like Christ, they are 
compassionate towards sinners; like the Bodhisattva, they are 
willing to wait till eternity to ensure the release of every soul 
in bondage to suffering before seeking their own salvation. 
Remember the touching episode in the life of Gautama when 
after receiving enlightenment be was for a moment tempted 
to keep the saving knowledge to himself and Brahma 
Sahampati expressed great concern at this decision and im- 
plored him to disseminate the spiritual illumination for the 
benefit of suffering humanity. All persons do not hear the 
promptings of their better nature with an equal alacrity-- 
the fatiguing prospect of a life of endless, and possibly thank- 
less, labour acts as a deterrent to all but the most daring, 
dynamic and compassionate natures. 

It is difficult to estimate the relative value of the quietis- 
tic and the activistic attitude towards religion and it is likely 
that in the long run no religious community is able to dis- 
pense with the contributions of either to its own spiritual ad- 
vancement. Eeligious experience and insight beget in the 
seer a disinterested disregard of conventions, a lyrical spon- 
taneity of self-expression in hymns, songs and acts of reli- 
gious worship. The recluse dwells apart with his God he 
is the only worshipper at his own inner sanctuary whose 
votive offerings the world may sometimes see but never share. 
The preacher, on the other hand, is an extravert with an 
inner urge to bring the tidings of religious truth to his fellow- 
men, to share their sorrows, to remove the bondage of their 
sins and their sufferings. Like Plato's philosopher, he feels 


that no one has a right to possess exclusively the illumination 
he has fortunately received. The spreading of the truth of 
which he is possessed is a paramount obligation with such a 
spirit. Possibly less intellectual than the contemplative 
sage and wedded more to the practical aspect of religions 
life, the preacher is sometimes less a revealer of new truths 
than a propagandist; but it would be a mistake to think that, 
he does not intimately accept and appropriate to himself the 
spirit of the religion he professes and preaches. Only deep 
and abiding conviction can lend fire to speech, and if some- 
thing constitutional makes one prone to believe and act, that 
does not take away from the fact that scepticism and doubt 
have always been fatal to the persistence of missionary zeal. 

Without seers and preachers a religion can only mark 
time. Wherever the fountain-head of inspiration dries up, 
religion degenerates into conventional thinking and customary 
practice. Truncated of its growing point, religion loses its 
organic and symmetrical development, and dense collateral 
growths of myth, dogma and ritual overlay the spiritual 
character of a living faith. Except when taken over from an 
older creed or evolved as an integral part of the original inspira- 
tion, these invariably represent either a stagnation of religion 
or a concession to the weaker understanding of the ordinary 
laity. In them personal insight and spontaneous expression 
are replaced by a less spiritual mode of imagination, intellect 
and activity all consciously directed towards popular edifica- 
tion, easy understanding, and stability and uniformity of 
socio-religious practices. Each of them has a tendency to 
become a tradition and to bring into being a special class of 
ministrants who gradually form a more or less rigid caste or 
corporation with the right and the duty of conserving the 
social beliefs and practices and the privilege of amending 
and elaborating them according to topical needs. The bard, 
the scholastic and the priest have each his own appointed 
place in the development of religion ; but 'their achievements 
have always had an evanescent character, as myths, dogmas 
and rituals have ever changed with the times in accordance 
with the prevailing taste and culture of the components of the 


religious community. 8 The close connection between the first 
and the last has often been noticed rituals instituted in 
accordance with myths and myths formulated to explain tradi- 
tional rites. Creeds alter more slowly as they have their 
origin in intellectual elaboration of the elements of faith ; 
and unless the faith itself alters materially, the creed cannot 
radically alter its character, for human reason is capable of 
far more stable formulations than human imagination and 
human emotion. But the ground-plan has always a prepon- 
derating influence on the superstructure and many a religious 
edifice has tumbled down, even when buttressed by the props 
of allegorical interpretation, because an undercurrent of 
scepticism has scoured away the foundations of faith. 
Dogmas have disappeared together with their religious basis 
in many parts of the world never to sway again the minds 
of men. They have, as a matter of fact, shared a worse fate 
than rituals which, basing themselves on inveterate habits of 
the body, have managed to transfer themselves from the 
vanquished religion to the conquering creed with a new 
significance adapted to the structure of the latter. 9 Think, 
for instance, of the many pagan rites and festivals that have 
survived in Christianity and Muhammadanism with an altered 

While the race of priests flourishes everywhere, and 
preachers and myth- and dogma-makers are not few, and 
even saints and sages appear regularly in fair numbers all 
over the world, the same cannot be said of prophets and 
founders of faith. A religious genius is like a biological freak 
he is born, not made. He effects in himself an unusual 
combination of all those qualities that go to make a seer, a 

W. Bobertson Smith, The Religion of the Semites (1914), p. 18; Hopkins, 
The Origin and Evolution of Religion, p. 226. See also Whitehead, Religion in 
the Making, p. 18f, 118, 120 f, 180, esp. Ch. IV, Sec. II, Experience and Expres- 

Marti, The Religion of the Old Testament, p. 108; Pratt, The Religious 
Consciousness, pp. 82-6. For the survival of some pagan superstitions in Egypt, 
see W. M. Flinders Fetrie, Religious Life in Ancient Egypt, p. 18. 


preacher and a priest. He has the head to discern more pro- 
foundly than his contemporaries the ultimate principles and 
values of existence in their true perspective ; he possesses the 
heart to feel the need of uplifting the moral tone and temper 
of his own age ; and he wields the arm that is not afraid to hit 
hard the prejudices and superstitions of his own people. Less 
consciously cogitative than a philosopher and, therefore, less 
effective as a system-builder, the founder of a faith yet learns 
more from hints and suggestions that the world throws out 
than a philosopher does. Susceptible to the poetry of exist- 
ence, his being vibrates in unison with invisible melodies ; 
the still small voice that escapes the attention of grosser ears 
brings to him messages from an unseen world; Heaven 
beckons unto him and angels speak to him. The spirit of 
God bloweth where it listeth ; while years of arduous prepara- 
tion through intellectual and ethical culture may confer a 
certain amount of religious mediocrity on the plodding, the 
world mostly owes its profoimdest moral and spiritual insights 
to those whose only literature was the book of the world 
the stilly night, the starry heavens, the joys and sorrows of 
men, and an inward peace that passes all understanding. 
Judged by the worldly standard of acquired wisdom, they may 
often be called ignorant ; Jbut an innate proneness to self- 
analysis and contemplation, coupled with an intuitive grasp 
of the spiritual needs and aspirations of the age, invests them 
with an insight into the spiritual principles of existence, and 
not only produces conviction in themselves about the authen- 
ticity of their personal vision but enables them to speak the 
truth, as perceived by them, in a dictatorial and authoritative 
fashion to the world at large. 10 Just as they themselves are 

M See Enc. Islam, ii, p. 486, art. ILHAM : " Allah revealg himself in two 
ways; to men individually by knowledge cast into their minds, and to men general- 
ly by messages sent through the prophets. The first, individual, revelation i 
tth&m; the second, and general, is toa^y. Saints, especially, are the recipkats of 
this i7fe*m, because their hearts are purified and prepared for it. It differs from 
intellectual knowledge ('tlm afcft ) in that it canuot be gained by meditation and 
deduction; but is suddenly communicated while the recipient can*ot tell how, 
whence or why. It is a pure gift from th generosity (faid) of AJfoh. It differs 



summoned to their office by an irresistible call from within 
or above, so also their own injunction to others to follow them 
has in all ages been obeyed at first by a small band of devoted 
followers and later on by a larger population of the globe. 

In fact, the first missionary of every religion must neces- 
sarily be the founder himself. He does not hide the light of 
hid spiritual insight under a bushel, nor does he bury the one 
talent that God has given him under the ground. He treats 
his revelation as a trust ; he does not hoard it like a miser or 
use it for personal gratification or personal grandeur. He 
considers himself to be the mouthpiece of the divine. It is 
likely that just as in primitive times the discoverer of a new 
fetish acted as one possessed and danced and shouted in 
religious frenzy till he could infect the assembled crowd, so 
also the discoverer of a new spiritual truth is often intoxicated 
by the revelation received and warns and preaches because he 
must. He is convinced about the genuineness of his illumina- 
tion and the spiritual good that it is sure to bring to the world. 
He has faith in the innate spiritual and moral nature of man ; u 
and so the darkest degradation all around does not damp the 
ardour of his soul. While relentless towards the follies and 
foibles of his contemporaries, he is yet solicitous of their 
salvation. He fears their fate but seeks to save them from 
ruin. A cynic can never be a saviour beneath the rind of 
occasional sternness there must always be a core of compassion 
if a prophet or a saint is to succeed in his mission. 

It is a remarkable testimony to the spiritual and ethical 
nature of man that no appeal of higher rationality and better 
morality has ever gone completely unheeded. All through the 
ups and downs of philosophy and faith a steady march of 

from wafyy only in that the angel messenger who brings tcafct/ may be seen by the 
prophet and that wafyj brings a message to be communicated to mankind, while 
*ilh&m is for the instruction of the recipient. Prom wasw&s or satanic whispering in 
the heart, it differs in respect of the causer an angel as opposed to a deril; and 
in the things to which it incites good as opposed to evil." See also Jung, Modem 
Affln in Search of a Soul, p. 281. 

W J. Legge, The Bcligions of China, p. 1Q8. 


culture and conviction is clearly discernible. True, there 
have been occasional backslidings and stagnations, and 
nations and races have gone into temporary Hibernations 
either at the suggestion of false guides, or in a spirit of 
tolerant accommodation and servile imitation, or under the 
threatening constraint or the insidious wiles of a lower culture. 
But the spirit of man has invariably triumphed over such 
temporary set-backs, and an indigenous evolution of greater 
consistency in thought and belief marks the history of every 
human race. Left unaided by the contact of higher cultures, 
the progress has often been woefully slow especially in 
regions where the monotonous regularity of natural pheno- 
mena raised no new problems for which the customary beliefs 
could not provide a ready solution. But even there the 
venturesome mind has suggested new answers to old problems 
and has been respectfully heard if it could suggest any im- 
provement upon the older solutions. And the criterion of 
advance has always been the establishment of greater consist- 
ency between assumption and experience, faith and practice, 
personal benefit and social need. 12 

The birth of a new faith may not inaptly be compared 
to an earthquake. The earth's surface is subject to ceaseless 
tremors which can only be revealed by a delicate seismograph. 
But occasionally deep rumblings are heard and then suddenly 
the terra firma begins to behave like clay in the hands of 
subterranean forces. The earthly frame begins to rock and 
heave and fall, great landslips and dislocations of levels take 
place, tidal waves invade the land and sweep away everything 
before them and huge structures and ancient monuments 
crumble into ruin. If the cumulative stresses in the earth's- 
crust, produced by the ceaseless contraction of the earth, be 
yielded to gradually, there is no violent upheaval ; but if they 
are resisted, they tend to increase till the rocks give way with 

U Cf. Whitehead, Religion in the Making, p. 20 r " national religion is 
religion whose beliefs and rituals have been reorganised with tbe aim of making 
it tbe central element in a coherent ordering of life an ordering which shall be 
coherent both in respect to the elucidation of thought, and in respect to the. direc- 
tion of conduct towards a unified purpose commanding ethical approval." 


a sudden shock and an earthquake is produced. If there 
happen to be lines of fracture and weakness in the earth's 
crust at any particular region, the succession of shocks may 
be quite rapid, 13 In the same fashion, the social mind is 
ceaselessly trying new lines of thought and action according 
to the eternal laws of mental development; but the changes 
are so small that the social equilibrium is seldom perceptibly 
disturbed by their operation. But let the necessary adapta- 
tion of faith to circumstances and culture be resisted for a 
sufficiently long time and lifeless formalities and outworn 
creeds usurp the place of a living and growing faith. Then a 
warning herald will make his appearance and be followed 
quickly by a new prophet whose message would explode 
established doctrines and inaugurate an era of new religious 
beliefs and social relations. Again and again in history has 
what I have elsewhere 14 called the triadic rhythm of devotion, 
hypocrisy and doubt been repeated, and faiths, that refused 
to listen to timely warnings, have paid the penalty of delay 
by being entirely engulfed or sorely battered by the rising 
tide of a new religious upheaval. 

A few historical illustrations will put the matter in 
a clear light. The decay of traditional faith among the 
Greeks and the Romans, which the sceptical and the serious 
philosophers alike hastened by their exposure of the unworthy 
picture of the gods worshipped by the multitude, led to the 
spread of the Mystery religions where at least some of the 
demands of a genuine religious life could be satisfied. As 
Prof. Seeberg points out, 16 " Although the Hellenistic 
Mystery religion* the cults of Attis, Isis, Osiris and Mithras 
-began as gross and fetishistic nature religions, they deve- 
loped into faiths in which the primitive elements were gradu- 
ally spiritualised, and as opposed to the juristic character of 

See W, B. Soott, An Introduction to Geology (1904), p. 64. 
M philosophical Quarterly, VI, p. Stt, t. Beaton *nd Religitn. 
IB Ottl Clemen <d.), Religio** of the World, p. 840. B* Magfc-P*tti*m 4 
. in tfc* PWonphy of Religion, Oh. XV. Gwatila ChiwtiwMty ** *** 


the religion of Borne and the aesthetic character of the reli- 
gion of Greece, they attracted in a time of decadence, scepti- 
cism and mysticism large numbers by their gorgeous ritual, 
the magic spell of their Mysteries, their demand for an 
ascetic life, the blissfulness of the ecstatic state, and their 
promise of deliverance and immortality. . . In the centre of 
them all stood the incarnate God, with whom the initiate, by 
means of a cultus full of dramatic moments and by means of 
the sacraments, attained to a fellowship that was partly sen- 
suous and partly spiritual. The myth of the God who died 
and rose again, and that of the saviour who was born of a 
virgin these and other conceptions were distinctly present 
in these Oriental religions long before the appearance of 
Christianity." Not only did the religious need of the indi- 
vidual remain unsatisfied in the old religions of Greece nnd 
Borne, but, as Hopkins says, 16 " the divinities of the Medi- 
terranean had lagged behind man in ethical progress and 
were in no position to act as spiritual guides :" so, as 
Beinach remarks, 17 "Christianity had not to triumph over 
official paganism; this had long been dead or effete; its rivals 
were the other Oriental religions." And the religions of 
Greece and Borne, like the religions of the Egyptians, the 
Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Teutons, vanished com- 
pletely from the face of the earth. To-day in lands where dll 
these religions flourished at one time the three monotheistic 
living religions of Semitic origin hold complete sway. 

Our second illustration would be Christianity. The Jews 
made more than one attempt to reform their religion, but 
again and again there were lapses. Josiah's attempt to 
purify faith by concentrating all worship at Jerusalem, like 
a similar attempt of Amenhotep IV (Ikhnaton) in Egypt to 
institute a purer form of solar worship (Aton), failed to survive 
long his own death, and foreign gods and idolatrous practices 
made their appearance in the temples. In 586 B.C. the 

U Hopkins, op. eft., p. 260. See G. M. Stratton, The Psychology of the 
ReKgious Life, p. 289. 

S. Beinach, Orphau, p. 114. 


temple of Jerusalem was burned by Nebuchadnezzar who had 
spared it in his first campaign of 597 B.C., arid the Babylo- 
nian exile of the leading Jews, begun during his first 
campaign, was completed. The Jews of the Dispersion could 
not continue their temple-service outside the holy ground of 
Jerusalem, and the Synagogue, the precursor of the Christian 
Church, came into existence and prayer replaced sacri- 
fice. 18 But the successful Maccabaean revolt not only 
restored the worship in the Temple but also brought 
into being the puritanic Pharisees who took up the 
task of interpreting and observing the old laws and 
ceremonials as also of developing and promoting the 
unwritten law or tradition. The mind of the race 
had, however, been already infected by the virus of a less 
formal religion; and so, in spite of the combined efforts of the 
doctors of the law (the Pharisees), the priestly aristocracy 
(the Sadducees) and the learned scholars (the Scribes), the 
old religion of sacrifice, so earnestly denounced by the Pro- 
phets on account of its want of inwardness and its dissocia- 
tion from high morality, tended to decline and degenerate into 
minute details about ceremonial purity and observance of the 
Sabbath, to put uncomfortable restrictions on freedom of 
thought and conduct, and to choke spontaneous self-expres- 
sion in matters of devotion. Life tended to become a body 
of regulations at least among the ordinary people, and the 
requirements of the temple- worship converted the sanctuary 
of God into a house of merchandise exactly as one can see 
to-day at our own Kalighat and Madura. According to an in- 
exorable law of the human mind that a spirit of rebellion 
is bound to be fostered as soon as a spontaneous gift becomes 
a compulsory levy, especially when demanded by the 
religious hierophant who is personally interested in 
costly offerings to the gods, the advent of Jesus, 
closely following upon the preaching of John the 
Baptist, was the signal for raising the question of the 

M BRB, x. 191-5, art. PBAYEB (Jewish). See also G. P. Moore, History 
of Religion*, Vol. 9, p. 24. See, however, EBB, iii. 788. 


utility of material offerings and the necessity of unmeaning 
restrictions in thought and conduct. Fortunately, in this 
case, the old religion possessed a sufficient surplus of ethical 
vitality and had, in fact, begun to develop towards a purer 
form of worship under the inspiration of the prophets and 
the exigencies of the Babylonian captivity. 19 So although 
a big slice was torn off its sides by Christianity it escaped 
total annihilation. 

In a similar fashion Muhammadanism succeeded in 
completely suppressing the pre-Islamic polytheism of Arabia 
and Zoroastrianism replaced the polytheism of Persia. 
Beared on mythology and superstition, and making little at- 
tempt to base higher morality on the nature of the divinities 
worshipped, both Arabian and Persian polytheisms tumbled 
down before the ethical religions of Muhammad and 
Zarathustra respectively, after seriously minded people had 
begun to doubt the efficacy of effete faith and had prepared 
the ground for the advent of a new religion. In India, again, 
when the old Vedic polytheism had failed to satisfy the 
learned, and the abstruse nature of the Upanisadic Brahman 
had failed to grip the popular imagination, and the rank 
rituals of the Brahmanas had tended to make worship soul- 
less and formal, various sceptical schools, about which we 
read in Brahmanic, Jaina and Buddhistic literatures, arose ; 
and soon afterwards Jainism and Buddhism appeared as 
organised protests against the cruel ceremonials of a creed 
in which the better minds had ceased to believe. 20 And 
when Brahmanism rehabilitated itself in popular favour by 
developing the Bhakti-cult and bringing religion within the 
comprehension of the laity by partially discarding Vedic 
Sanskrit, which was becoming unintelligible to the people at 
large, and also by concentrating on treatises like the 
Bhagavadglta, which at once satisfied religious and moral 
needs, it managed to ward off the concerted attack of internal 

See Harnack, History of Dogma (Eng. Tr.), Vol. I, pp. 68-69 f.n t 
10 See B. 0. Law, Buddhittic Studiet, p. 72 f. 


scepticism and alien faith. 81 But when the Pauranic litera- 
ture went beyond the bounds of religious and moral minis- 
tration and began to hold up ideals and examples whose 
acceptance the growing moral and religious sense and ac- 
quaintance with foreign religions with a purer faith and a 
higher moral tone alike rendered impossible, there arose in 
Mediaeval India a close succession of religious thinkers whose 
sects are still extant in different conditions of vitality. Later 
defections still have occurred, and the Sikhs, the Arya Samaj- 
ists and the Brahmas claim to-day a fairly large number of 
adherents who have seceded from the orthodox Hindu fold. 
Whosoever studies impartially the history of heterodoxy in 
India is bound to come to the conclusion that Hinduism 
with its motley group of religious ideas represents a weak 
crust of faith and that it has had often to pay the penalty of 
extreme conservatism all through its history. But for the 
fact that through its age-long career it had made many experi- 
ments in forms of pure faith and many advances in lofty 
morals, which even a casual gleaner could spot with eaue, 
it would have long been swept out of existence altogether. 
Even in the Mahabharata, which is supposed to extol the 
achievements of the Ksatriyas and their sacrifices, we have 
repeated assertions that ceremonies were multiplied through 
ignorance of Truth which is the main object of Vedic teach- 
ing and that Truth always prevails against customary reli- 
gion (dharma) and is always superior to sacrifice and 
slaughter of animals. 22 Similar statements are plentiful 
among the Hebrew prophets. Judaism and Hinduism 
possess both the advantages and the disadvantages of not 
embodying the religious ideas of a single age or the ethical 
principles of a single man. Both possess lofty heights and 
abysmal depths ; and while their opponents seek to pin them 
down to their cellars, they manage to escape through their 
sky-lights. This explains also why in these ethnic religions 

See the present writer's article on The Vitality of Hindu Religion in 
Philosophical Quarterly, I, p. 251f. 

ft Carpenter, Theism in JfaZtoiu* India, p. 188, 


protests have mostly taken the form of schismatic sects 
which retained the cultural tradition and even the language 
of the mother creed in varying degrees. 

When the protests come from the rational side of man, 
who fails to see the significance and the utility of many of 
the beliefs, formalities and institutions of the religious 
organisation to which he belongs, they take the form of 
reforming movements. A reformer need not always claim 
divine inspiration for his self-imposed task : it is enough 
if he is possessed of a strong common sense and improved 
ethical motives. Eaja Bammohan Roy and Dayananda Saras- 
wati were reformers of Hinduism in the sense that both 
could see the weakness of some of the Hindu doctrines and 
practices and sought to eradicate them either by appealing 
to the purer speculations of the Hindus themselves or by 
pointing out the many inconsistencies of their religious 
lives. They did not claim anything divine for their mission, 
although it is not unlikely that they were fortified in their 
efforts by the approbation of their own conscience. Similar- 
ly, the Wahhabi movement in Muslim Arabia and the rise 
of the Sthanakvasi sect among the Jains have as one of their 
objectives the removal of useless formalities and undue vene- 
ration of religious saints and symbols; but no divine com- 
mand prompted their promulgators to undertake the task of 
reformation. Sects, as distinguished from reforming move- 
ments, may arise from less noble motives and are veiy often 
due to local patriotism or loyalty to a particular leader. Go 
through the seventy-three Muslim sects mentioned in the 
Fark-bain-al-Firak and you will wonder why some of them 
should have differed from each other at all. It is difficult 
to claim divine inspiratio;* for the way in which religious 
symbols should be marked or worn on the body, and yet 
sometimes two Vai?nava sects would probably differ in very 
little else. How many unseemly quarrels took place over 
the exact position of a word in the creed in the early years 
of the Christian Church f Many men have a tendency to 
stick to trifles for no other reason than that they have set 
their heart upon them, and yet they are unwilling to concede 



toothers tiro same right that they claim for themselves. The 
same god differently named would bring different sects into 
being Narayana, Visnu, Kama, Hari and Ky^na, though 
referring to the same god, have different sets of followers in 
India with a fairly hostite altitude towards the votaries of the 
same god with a different name ; and among the Spanish 
peasants, we are told, it is perfectly legitimate to worship 
Virgin Mary with one title and belonging to a particular 
village while reviling in unseemly language the Madtmim of 
another village and bearing a different title. 

Sects and schisms, however, have their justification 
and value when* they imply a> certain vitality 016 faifch among 
the adherents of a creed and a living interest in the religion 
which they profess. No sect ever arises in days of general 
apathy and scepticism, for religion ceases then fay be a 
matter of vitaf concern and, even when the routined formal- 
ities are gone through in mechanical way, people da Hot 
bother themselves much about the niceties of detail of the 
proprieties of language and thought on which secte and 
schisms thrive and flourish. They are no longer matters 
of life and death ta the community ; and so a spirit of 
toleration, eofcpled occasionally with indolence, dictates 
non-interference with existing theories and practices. Like 
a shell bursting in its career through space, a religion breaks 
up into sects mostly in its initial stages when the first for- 
raukbtioi* ia more or less nebulous and* people hafve strong 
feelings about the necessity of an accurate creed. The 
greatest schisms and controversies hi Muhammadanism, 
Christianity and Buddhism have all taken place in the effer- 
vescent phases of their opening career. When alter cen- 
turies of discussion and scrutiny faiths settle <*owfc into a 
relatively constant body of dogmas and rituals, they are very 
seldom disturbed except when an evolution of & greater in- 
tellectual power or a purer ethical senser or contact with a 
nobler creed exposes undetected laws or when imperceptible 
accretion of corrupt practices aftd deftased thoughts stands 
revealed to th refitted sensibility of * sahrt or & prophet. Tfl 
religion, no left* than in the fegtan of senmffion, there i* 0tu& 

**ND YAiLUE 10 

a thing as adaptation : we (fail to notice the defects -of our 
own ireligiciu pst as we fail to notice the stuffy atmosphere 
.qr the sttiiaking smell of a locality after we have 'been there 
for some time. Like the fisties of the Kentucky caves we 
lose the -power of sight by subjection to constant darkness : 
our wligious sense gets atrophied without regular excursion 
into the region of intellectual light. If the formation of a 
sect signifies a sally into the ireaka of clarity -and conscience, 
as it certainly mas in Mediaeval India, it should always be 
hailed with delight. Even if it is reabsorbed by -the original 
religion, it cannot fail to act as a leaven and to purify faith : 
like bacteria in the nodules of (the leguminosae, which fix 
the nitrogen of the air in the plant^body, a pure <setft em- 
bedded in a torpid faith tends to increase its vitality ,n*nd 
growth. It may not always amount to a 'reforming move- 
ment, which implies not only the perception of new truths 
but an active propagation of the same; but when rightly 
formed, it acts from within in a beneficial manner and pre- 
vents that hiatus of tradition which the institution of an 
absolutely new creed always implies. Without any ethical 
or rational contribution to make to existing faith and prac- 
tice, however, a sect is no better than a mere fad or fashion 
which is 'bound to disappear in course of time. What Jung 
speaks of the modern man is true also of the founder of a 
religious sect : " he must be proficient in the highest degree, 
for unless 'he can atone by creative ability for his 'break with 
tradition, ,he is merely disloyal to the past." M 

But, like an ill-patched garment or a disjointed mason- 
ry, which is a cause of constant anxiety and trouble, a faith 
may sometimes be such a medley of contradictory beliefs or 
crude superstitions that it is more profitable to dis- 
card it altogether than to prolong its existence by 
further patch-work. It may also be without suffi- 
cient intellectual and moral foundation for the rear- 
ing of a structure suited to the growing needs of the spirit. 

X Jwg, Mod&n Man 4n #oh of Soul (X. The Spiritual Problem of 
Bfoiern Mm), p. 


In such cases the only remedy lies in pulling down 
the building and strengthening the foundations for a 
nobler structure, always remembering, of course, that the 
soil should be capable of supporting the new load. This 
fate, so far as empirical generalisation is permissible, is 
bound to overtake not only magical beliefs but also religions 
based on an exclusive use of the imagination to the total 
neglect of the intellectual and mystical operations of the mind. 
The spinning of an elaborate pantheon is not always a sign 
of religious vitality it is very often a fatty degeneration of 
faith. The character of all degenerate faiths is that they 
forget nothing and reject nothing, with the effect that they 
become ultimately smothered by the accumulation of age- 
long traditions very often in contradiction with one another. 24 
Nothing is so conducive to religious vitality as the jettisoning 
of dead customs and dry creeds and the reorganisation of the 
materials of faith with every advance in genuine philosophic, 
ethical or mystic insight. 

The Egyptian religion perished because it was latterly 
dominated by a persistent theriolatry and a mass of myths 
about gods, rather strange in a people otherwise so advanced 
in civilisation. The same is the case with Assyrian, Baby- 
lonian and Teutonic religions. In Greece speculation be- 
came secular at a very early time and philosophy pursued a 
career independently of religion, with the effect that the 
popular faith was reared on Homeric tales, not always ethi- 
cally palatable or philosophically sound. The best minds 
were obliged to evolve personal faiths ; and while most of 
them probably conformed outwardly to the religion of the 
state, they were inwardly alienated from it and did not think 
it worth their while to waste their philosophic labours on 
futile popular legends. The Eomans, not much noted either 
for their religious or for their philosophic originality, 
gathered gods from all corners of their far-flung empire 

S* Tn the language of Bernard Shaw, they can be compared only to " a store 
in which the very latest and most precious acquisitions are flung on top of a 
noisome heap of rug-and-bottle refuse and worthless antiquities from the museum 
lumber zoom." (The Adventure* of the Black Girl in her search for God, p. 60.) 


without much reference to their compatibility; and among 
them also the best minds sought personal solace in ethical 
speculations unrelated to popular religion. Buddhism could 
spread so rapidly in Japan because the myths of tho Kojiki 
could not supply enough spiritual food to the thinking minds 
of the island race. To-day, for the same reason, in India 
the religion of the Puranas has grown shamefaced and is 
failing to hold the undivided attention, interest and devo- 
tion of the ethicist and the philosopher. If, however, the 
ship of Hindu faith is still sailing steadily on, it is because 
it was equipped with the double engine of myth and specu- 
lation, and wherever the one has failed the other has taken 
over control in thinking minds. The injection of a little 
speculation into religion acts like a prophylaxis when the 
days of rationalism and free thinking arrive : those religions 
that are without it are simply killed out, while those with it 
either escape altogether or get off with slight scars and pits. 
But it all depends upon the dosing. While a moderate 
degree of thinking may stimulate the activity of faith, a 
larger dose may prove injurious or fatal. Philosophy may 
prove a treacherous ally to religion at any moment, and a 
sound instinct has in all ages prompted religious men to 
scent danger in excessive speculation. Beligion is an affair 
of light and shade combined, and ' the dim religious light ' 
always disappears in the glare of intellectual illumination. 
The different formulae of religion, viz., that it is according 
to reason, above reason and against reason, have all been 
tried in different ages; the only formula, however, likely to 
fit is that religion is towards reason. What I mean is that 
all religions destined to survive have in them a power and a 
tendency to grow towards a rational understanding of the 
world asymptotically without however reaching the goal. A 
complete description is possible only of a thing finished; but 
in religion man is concerned with a growing point of the 
mind you can describe its tendencies but not its Articula- 
tions, just as you can describe in detail a detached leaf but 
not the growing tip of a creeper. In religion the whole 
personality of man is operating his intellectual, emotional 


volitional altitudes are ail inextricably bound up m his 
reaction to the total universe .of sensible and supersensible 
things. To amderataad faith you must understand its phy- 
siology and not its mere anatomy--4n fact, yarn cannot dis- 
sociate the rationed and non-rational elements without kiMing 
it. The ' numinous' element refuses >to be dragged into the 
light ,of iirteUigibility : the roots of faith lie deeply buried 
within the mind and .cannot be exposed to light like its 
foliations in philosophy and cultus. You may modify your 
dogmas and rituals with the help of reason and defend or 
desteoy >thein with argument; 25 fou* the mystic c<w?e of religion 
ekfcdes *he reach of reason and can neither be completely justi- 
fied nor be completely disproved. And so it Jhappens that 
none .can *be made religious by arguments, <nordoes a religious 
man, iunahle .to defend his experience by reasoning, cease to 
have faith. 86 Like Instinct, which has been .characterised 
as being purposive without a conscious purpose, religious 
intuition or unysticism oaaay be described as ibeing cognitive 
without clear understanding, it embodies a 'good deal of 
unreason without being irrational : ithart is why it is so 
closely related to bigotry and fanaticism and .can so quickly 
produce heat without <Mght. 27 

tfeander, iLwtvres.on the -Huttwy of Christian >Dogmas (Bug. CTr.), Vol. I, 
p. 4 : " Dogmas are only that form of the .life rooted in Qod .which is constructed 
by thought and reflection." 

* See C. 3T. J. Webb, Religion and Theiam, pp. 25-6 : " The attempt to deduce 
thf reasonableness of ^Religion from ,a -belief in God's existence based on other 
than religious grounds is bound to fail; for the non-religions arguments alleged in 
support of the belief can only help to establish a genuinely religions faith when 
(they are themsrttas .interpreted <%n the light <ff that religions experience which 
originally znajfias us ware of God at all. Apart from this they cannot reveal 
God to us; they can at the most remove obstacles to the reception by our minds 
of revelation mediated 'by that capacity for communion with the divine which 
is a normal feature of our humanity. 4 ' See also p. /Ill: " I do not consider that, 
qpart from the sense, mentioned just now as natural to the human mind, of 
being in the presence of Something at once ultimate and intimate, the arguments 
for .the existence 6f God which may be called metaphysical, and which received 
such drastic treatment at the hands of Kant, could establish the reality of ft God 
who could be the object of religious worship." See also Hegel, Lectures on the 
Philosophy of Religion, I, p. 4 also p. 88 : " Religion is a product of the Divine 
^pirit ;:ttiis<ntf a< discovery .<rf man, trat a .work of divine operation and creation in 
him.** See Bratt, The Religious Consriousnesf, p. 14f and p. -glOf, for different 
types Of religions belief. 

*T')fa*tt,,F6f*fc, Hope and Chanty in Primitive Religion, p. 9*. 

Because of this mystical element i positive religion can 
ever come into being by cogitation alone* nor oa it be fully 
described by any catalogue of positive dogmas. 28 No Angli- 
can divine wiH admit thai to him religion is summed up in 
the thirty-nine articles of faith, nor would any Christian agree 
that his belief cam? be completely summarised by this or that 
Creed as laid down by the various Oecumenical Councils. 
A vertebrate animal is not all spine nor is a living religion 
all creed : the spine no less than the creed is cast out by she 
process of life itself. In the process of growth rudimentary 
structures may very often be replaced, as when a notochord 
is superseded by the regular spine; so also in religious deve- 
lopment an outworn creed is often replaced by a more ade- 
quate body of dogmas. Eeligion is a life and not a creed, and 
as it does not owe its origin to conscious fabrication, it is 
always regarded as an uprush from within or an invasion 
from without. To use Descartes' language, it is either ad- 
ventitious or innate but never factitious a message from 
above or an ebullition from within, but never a production 
of conscious art. A sect or a reform may be launched into 
being by conscious premeditation; it can be justified by 
reasons and propagated by arguments. But both presuppose 
a religious attitude which does not owe its existence to con^ 
scious deliberation. You cannot draw up a Memorandum of 
Association to inaugurate a religious community just as you 
can float a joint-stock company; a religion so formed will have 
the solidity and the chilliness of the ice which you can your- 
self manufacture but not the refreshing coolness of the tain, 
which is a gift from above, nor the spontaneity and sweet- 
ness of the gushing spring which wells up from the bowels 
of the earth. The older theologians called religion a posses- 
sion by the Spirit of God and the modem psychologists are 
calling it an obsessional neurosis; 29 but none has thus far re- 
garded it as a c0aciot*s make-believe, even though some have 

See C. J. J. Webb, op. cit., p. HOf. 

M As by Freud in The Future of an Illusion, Far a criticism of the 
Freudian view, ee C. J. J, Webb, op. eft., p. 117, 


gone to the length of describing it as a device of cunning 
priests to catch unwary fools. 30 . 

Again and again in the history of religion has it happen- 
ed that a reforming movement has ended only in founding a 
sect. Had religion been wholly an affair of reason and the 
reforming movement based on absolutely unassailable 
arguments, the transformation of a creed would have simply 
been a question of time. But while every religion is bene- 
fited spiritually by ethical and rational thinking among its 
adherents, it is seldom, if ever, totally changed in its charac- 
ter by concerted action. A religious community is stratified 
by differences of culture and temperament; and while the 
more advanced section can wear religion like a corn which 
yields to painless operation, the more backward part wears 
it like a skin, which can of course be torn off by compulsory 
conversion or sloughed off by the growth of the mind but 
otherwise sticks to the constitution under all conditions. 
Innate conservatism a habit to follow beaten tracks and to 
trust to the genius of the past worthies of the race, and an 
inborn fear of the unknown a natural shrinking from 
adventures and experiments in a field of tremendous spiritual 
risk, may keep back all but the boldest from drifting away 
from ancestral moorings; and the number of bold spirits 
being naturally small, the bulk of the community affects to 
ignore their existence or raises protective prohibitions 
against their entry and influence. So, unless the zeit geist 
is favourable and the unconscious attitude of the majority is 
definitely hostile to an existing creed, a reforming party is 
bound to find itself an outcasted sect, if it has a respectable 
following, or a band of faddists, if the number of adherents 
is small. Surrounded on all sides by the major community, 
it very often degenerates into an esoteric society or secret 
cult, and, while undoubtedly ennobled by its own doctrines, 
it fails to achieve its purpose either on account of a lack of 
drive or because the soil is uncongenial to its principles. 

*8ee Ny&yakusnm&ftjali, i. 9; Carlyle, On Heroes and Hero -Worship, p. \t 
(Bladrie and Sons). 


Reforms, too much in advance of their times^ have seldom 
succeeded in converting the world : when imposed by force 
by a ruling minority on a cowering majority, they have 
very often brought about a reactionary movement of the 
worst type as soon as the strong hand has been withdrawn. * 
This is why reforms have succeeded most where a general 
advance of intellectual culture has rendered the maintenance 
of existing beliefs and practices difficult, if not impossible, 
even to the ordinary understanding; as a matter of fact, 
they have very often been heralded by a general decay of 
faith, as at the time of Socrates in Greece and of Buddha in 
India. Ignorance has ever been the home of obscurantism : 
viewed from this standpoint, the Vedic invocation to the Sun, 
the brightest symbol of illumination, to increase excellent 1 
understanding has a deep significance. This explains also 
why religious bodies have so often been faced with the task 
of educating the people at large to ensure an intimate and 
vital acceptance of their own principles. A religion, unable 
or unwilling to face the consequences of a general diffusion 
of culture, has practically no future before it. In proportion 
as the general body of believers is educated, is a religion put 
on its mettle and obliged to eradicate inconsistent and ig- 
noble elements from its principles and practices. An in- 
telligent laity cannot be always bullied or bluffed and can 
draw their own conclusions about and from religious injunc- 
tions : they very often bring a fresh outlook to bear upon 
ancient texts and make short work of the monopoly of inter- 
pretation claimed by the privileged in spiritual power. They 
must be met on their own grounds if ancestral faith is to retain 
its hold on them. 38 

a I am firmly convinced that a vast number of people belong to the fold 
of the Catholic Church and nowhere else, because they are most suitably housed 
there. I am as much persuaded of this as of the fact, which I have myself ob- 
served, that a primitive religion is better suited to primitive people than Chris- 
tianity, which is so mcoraprebenRible to them, and so foreign to their blood that 
they can only ape it in a disgusting way. 11 C. G. Jung, Modern Man in Search 
of a Soul p. 282. 

See, for instance, a trenchant - criticism of Hindu beliefs by a Hindu 
thinker in Farquhar, The Crown 9f Hinduism, jp. 110; also Govinda Das, llin- 
duitm, Introduction, 


A reformer, however, seldom claims divine Inspiration 
for his work. He very often professes to rid his ancestral 
faith of undesirable accretions and interpretations, because 
to his ethical and intellectual sensitivity its doctrines do not 
breathe the true spirit of a pure faith. Now, this profession 
of veneration for a golden past may be either a genuine belief 
or a mere tactful move. Christianity has very often pointed 
to the early Church Fathers as the repositories of the pure 
faith, and that in spite of the fact that even St. Paul and 
Jesus did not teach exactly the same thing and within four 
centuries of the establishment of Christianity most of the 
important issues regarding the nature and function of Christ 
had been raised, not only as between the canonical and the 
apocryphal or gnostic literature but also as between different 
leaders of the Orthodox Church itself. Similarly, Islam 
bestowed meticulous care on the collection of genuine tradi- 
tions and within three hundred years of the death of its 
founder his reputed sayings and acts were incorporated in 
six collections which now form the Sunnah. Here also contra- 
dictions are to be found, whether because the Prophet did 
not follow any uniform rule of theory or practice or because 
he was incorrectly reported; 33 but the idea that for supple- 
menting the contents of the Qur'an only the testimony of the 
contemporaries of Muhammad is admissible indicates that 
in Islam too corruption was supposed to infect the source 
less than later traditions and customs, and the practices of 
the first Khalifs were regarded as setting the pattern of 
purity. Similarly, again, in Hinduism, it is laid down 
that the immemorial customs of Brahmavarta, created by 
the gods, and the principles of life followed by the Brahmins 
of the BrahmarsideSa, lying next to Brahmavarta, should be 
the ideals of conduct and character of all mankind. 34 We 
have no means of ascertaining what those customs and prin- 
ciples were, but the implication is clear, namely, that the 
land of ancient traditions should control the religious belief 

a See Guillwiinb, The Traditions of Itlam, p. 127. 
* Mann, ii. 17-80. 


of the community. Till about the end of the 18th century 
the Indian Parsis too referred to their co-religionists in 
Persia on matters of doubt and dispute for authoritative 
decision (Bivayat) 35 as these were supposed to be nearer the 
original form of their common faith. The Semitic mind 
ffurns unconsciously to Jerusalem or Mecca for the genuine 
traditions for the very good reason that heterodoxy 
becomes ashamed to parade its innovations openly in the 
home of the prophet where every particle of dust is likely to 
rebel against the profanation of the creed. 

But harking back to the past has its dangers as well as 
its avdantages. The Protestant insistence upon going back 
to the life and teachings of Jesus himself is founded upon 
the belief that the spiritual life of the Pounder of Faith is 
always more inspiring and ethically more worthy than the 
ideals of conduct and conviction established by the Church 
during its history. Eecent researches have shown that it 
is not easy to fix with certainly the genuine teachings of 
Christ; but even when allowances have been made for con- 
flicting testimony, desire to extol and exaggerate, anxiety to 
filiate Christ's mission and activity to Old Testament, tradi- 
tions and Greek Philosophy, and want of critical and scien- 
tific insight among the writers of the Gospels, enough still 
remains to reveal a striking moral personality whose life was 
an inspiration and whose message was a blessing to the sin- 
ner and the down-trodden. The Protestant attitude towards 
later development has been well expressed by Harnack in the 
following lines : K "Dogmatic Christianity stands between 
Christianity as the religion of the Gospel, presupposing a per- 
sonal experience and dealing with disposition and conduct, 
and Christianity as a religion of cultus, sacraments, ceremo- 
nial and obedience, in short of superstition, and it can be unit- 
ed with either the one or the other." Eoman Catholicism is 
regarded as having developed Dogmatic Christianity towards 
the latter of the two and it is the aim of the Protestants 

s Moulton, Th* Treasure of the Magi, p. 198. 
* Harnack, op. **., p. 10. 

38 Otf&BR 

to lead it back to the former* although, as Harnaek 
remarks,* 7 in spite of "its secret note of interrogation 
against dogmas, Protestantism, "because of its tendency to 
look back and to seek for authorities in the past and partly 
in the original unmodified form" of the old dogmas, has 
placed more reliance upon dogmas of the 4th and 5th cen- 
turies than upon doctrines connected with justification by 
faith. Similar attempts to lead men back to the scripture 
froin the Talmudic tradition (Ananite or Karaite move- 
ment), 38 or to the austere faith of the Qur'an to the total abo- 
lition of the veneration of saints and holy places and symbols, 
or to the non-idolatrous Vedic religion or the mystic monism 
of the Upfcnisads from Pauranic mythology and idolatrous 
practices are not unknown. The pure fountain of spiri- 
tuality, as it bubbles up from the life of the apostles and 
seers, is supposed to be contaminated in its flow through time 
as impure hands begin to train its channels for doctrinal pur- 
poses without the gift of a perfect life. So reformers have 
often no other ambition than to purify faith of later addi- 
tions, very frequently made by an indulgent generation in a 
spirit of accommodation to existing conditions as it begins 
to spread, of by an ethically fallen generation unable to keep 
up lofty heights or resist the downward pull of lower cultures. 
In the case of religions that have a long history and do not 
owe their origin to single prophets, a choice of a period or a 
book had necessarily to be made to fix the standard of purity. 
But reference to the past may not all be genuinely Ins- 
pired : it may often be a matter of tact. Being brought up 
in a particular tradition, we are so very prone to love it with 
all its faults that any suggestion to leave a sinking bark of 
faith may produce an opposite effect. The greatest number 
of converts to Muhammadanism and Christianity, the two 
most active missionary religions of the world, comes from 
savage and semi-civilised tribes not much hampered by the 

W Ibid, p. 19. 

* CK P. Moort, Jftrfory of Religion*, Vol. 9, fe. 


organised traditions of an ancestral faith and from socially 
oppressed classes or classes ignorant of their own religious 
traditions. The educated persons in any community are un- 
doubtedly the first to detect flaws in their own religion, and 
yet they do not make easy converts. The reason is that the 
Unconscious attachment to one's own ancestral faith, which 
sends out invisible tentacles of language, tradition, custom 
and ceremony through one's entire being, is so strong that 
even when its defects loom painfully large before one's con- 
sciousness one is still unable to forsake it or see it vilified. 
Like a quarrelsome old wife whom one has ceased to love 
and yet whom one defends against outside attack, a moribund 
faith is an interesting psychological study. This is 
why if a reformer is able to revitalise the old bones 
of a dying creed and prevent the wholesale adoption 
of a more vigorous religion, totally alien to tribal, 
national or racial traditions and customs, he is readily 
heard and obeyed. Thus Sikhism partially, and Arya 
Samajism wholly, returned to a purified conception of Hindu 
religion and stemmed the tide of Islam in the Punjab, while 
the Brahma Samaj did the same thing in Bengal against the 
serious onslaught of Christianity. These three religious 
movements of mediaeval and modern India gave the necessary 
breathing space to orthodox Hinduism for moulting and re- 
orienting itself to the changed social conditions of the 
country; and to-day signs are not wanting that Hinduism, 
through its missions and meetings, is beginning to adopt 
the policy of the vigorous proselytising religions of the world 
that aggression is always the best defence as it not only mobi- 
lises social forces but also compels a rational and practical re- 
organisation of the creed. 

But appeal to social sentiment and loyalty to ances- 
tral faith have their difficulties, disadvantages and dangers. 
The requirements of adjustment to advanced culture are 
rational coherence of doctrines and ethical motives of action; 
but undiluted philosophy and didactic discourse, divorced from 
all religious association, have no chance of success with the 
ordinary mind. Nor is allegorical interpretation of dubious 


doctrines and shady practices always a safe procedure, 39 
especially when religious matters are taught through un- 
becoming symbols. Debasing thoughts and practices have 
a tendency to be taken in their utter literalness in total dis- 
regard of their esoteric philosophy and ethics; the licentious 
rites that grew round vegetation myths and divine amours 
practically in every religion of antiquity should caution us 
against adhering to a debased creed with allegorical 
interpretation, solely for the sake of continuing ancestral 
beliefs. A religion that is inherently incapable of suffi- 
cient rationalisation and moralisation for the advancing 
spiritual needs of humanity may be given artificial respira- 
tion for some time, but it will never completely revive. 
Even devotionalism has its peculiar language for each stage 
of culture : the sanklrtana that made Navadvlpa mad in the 
16th century, and is still a potent force for religious excite- 
ment in suitable temperaments, can hardly be revived under 
modern conditions as a method of mass conversion it has 
a limited appeal to modern minds, grown sceptical about the 
religious value of ecstatic trance and emotional frenzy. 
Similarly, socio-economic changes and man's altered concep- 
tion about the nature of God have sounded for ever the death- 
knell of the spectacular but costly sacrificial method of wor-. 
ship all over the world, at least among the educated. 

There is the further difficulty that unless the elements 
of a religion admit of picking and choosing, without commit- 
ting the reformer to its undesirable aspects also for retaining 
its distinctiveness, no attempt to lead religion back to its 
original form is likely to succeed with a later generation. 
We may suppose such a wise selection of ancestral beliefs to 
have been made by Confucius 40 and Zarathustra, 41 although 
the latter is also regarded as having been divinely commanded 
to strike a death-blow at idolatry in his native soil.? But 

WOarlyJe, On Heroes and Hero-Worship , p. 11. 
7. Legge, The Religions of China, p. 4. 

UM. Hang, Essays on the Religion of the Parsis, p. 294, 801; Tiele, The 
ReKgion of ihe Iranian People, Part I, p. 68; Ch. VUL 
tt Haug> op. ott., p. 895* 


where the desirable and the undesirable elements form a 
single texture and cannot be separated without evaporating 
the distinctiveness of the religion sought to be reformed, all 
attempts at reconstruction are futile. Similar difficulties 
are bound to arise where there is no unanimity about the 
essentials of the creed itself. But where these difficulties 
do not exist and it is possible to dissociate the worthy ele- 
ments from the ignoble ones and to interpret them in tho 
light of existing spiritual needs, not philosophically or ethi- 
cally only but in such a way that the common man may get 
religious inspiration from them, it is not impossible to resusci- 
tate an ancient faith. It is true that each age introduces 
its own ideas into the old faith and possibly smuggles in 
foreign matter from alien faiths; but the phraseology and the 
framework being indigenous, the reformed religion proves 
readily acceptable to those who are unwilling to break away 
from ancient traditions and yet are unable to accept them 
wholesale as principles of a spiritual life. 45 Such reformed 
religions, however, do not always spread easily among ordi- 
nary people; very often a long time and a powerful patronage 
are required to make them popular and even then sometimes 
not before they have clothed themselves with new supersti- 
tions or absorbed old ones in a transformed garb. But, even 
when limited to a small minority, they react powerfully 
upon the contiguous religions of the time which, while ig- 
noring or oppressing them, quietly drop many of their own 
obnoxious features. 

We shall close this lecture by bringing out the implica- 
tions of this backward glance. If religion is to develop by 
renovating old creeds, this can only mean that the spirit of 
man had once been in complete possession of truth and that 
history is the record of man's fall from a pristine purity to be 
recovered in part fitfully with the help of reformers. The 
picture of a golden age, when men talked with God 
or gods, or souls dwelt in stars and beheld from 
there the undimmed lustre of truth, beauty and good- 

Hegel, Philosophy of RoUgion. I, p. 28, 


nets, is such a fascinating speculation that men have 
been powerfully tempted in many lands to advance 
it. If nothing more is meant than this that the laws of 
spiritual life are eternal and that as soon as men remove the 
veil of ignorance and superstition and sin from their mind 
and life they get an unclouded vision of those eternal laws, 
there is abundant justification for a backward, rather an in- 
ward, glance. In this sense it may be truly held with Plato 
that man learns nothing but only remembers. The prophet 
of any age may then be said to help men to realise the eter- 
nal laws of their spiritual life like a true guru, he opens the 
spiritual vision by applying the collyrium of insight to eyes 
blinded by ignorance. 

But it is not in this sense that the matter is generally 
understood. What is meant to be signified sometimes is 
that there really was a time when an actual positive religion 
flourished which contained nothing but the highest wisdom, 
the purest morality and the devoutest feeling, and that we 
must reinstate that time on earth by clearing the debris 
of unspiritual matters that the sophistication of centuries has 
accumulated. Now, there is not an iota of historical evidence 
to justify this belief in respect of any country. In the 
epitaphs of ancestral tablets nations have chosen to express 
their filial piety by following the rule, "Nothing but good of 
the dead." The belief that our ancestors were mere religious 
is all of a piece with the otber beliefs that they lived incon- 
ceivably longer and that they possessed infinitely larger 
stature than ourselves. The fact is that the only literature 
that nations have cared to preserve from the remotest anti- 
quity is religious literature. Compared with the hoary anti- 
quity of this literature, secular literature is a mere stripling : 
as a matter of fact, we are obliged in most cases to recon- 
struct their earliest secular lives from their religious docu- 
ments. Why people clung so tenaciously to religious 
traditions in preference to secular ones is a large enquiry : 
this is certain, however, that this partiality has served to 
raise them unduly in the estimation of posterity which 
ascribes this phenomenon to their unusual demotion to religion. 


Perhaps in one sense this is true, for religion to the ancients 
meant more than it does to us, as it comprehended rules of 
hygiene and medicine, cosmogonic and sociological specula- 
tions, magic and philosophy, in addition to modes of devotion 
and worship ; but there is nothing to show that religion was 
more spiritual or more universally followed except as a blind 
custom of the tribe or the race. The only pragmatic justifi- 
cation for such a belief is that men are likely to attempt with 
more confidence a programme of spiritual life if they know 
that the highest ideal had once been actual in the lives of an 
earlier generation and that in trying to attain a high level of 
spirituality they are not working off the beast in them but 
recovering the angel. 

The other sense in which this return-movement is under- 
stood is that no religion can rise higher than its source and 
that, therefore, whenever any deviation from the religious life 
of the founder or from the message preached by him takes 
place we are falling away from the pure faith. Hindu philo- 
sophers are fond of classifying things into four classes, namely, 
those that have neither beginning nor end, those that have 
both beginning and end, those that have no beginning but 
have an end, and those that have a beginning but no end. 
The belief about a last revelation that occurred in the past 
falls within this fourth class. The Eomans used to consult 
the Sibylline books in times of danger and difficulty and the 
Protestants go back to the New Testament to combat debased 
faith ; the mentality is the same, namely, that the wisdom 
displayed therein can never be excelled. Later on we shall 
have occasion to discuss at length this question of a last revela- 
tion : here we simply indicate the possibility of advocating 
this in a reforming movement. We are invited to believe 
that although in every realm of human activity there are 
manifest signs of progress, in religion alone the* last thing has 
already been said and that, therefore, it is incumbent upon 
succeeding ages to cease experimenting with faith and to 
return to the original doctrines of the Last Prophet. Apart 
from the question of authenticity and consistency, we have to 
believe in the spiritual validity and the .ethical sufficiency of 



his teachings for all ages and climes ; and it is here that 
difficulties are likely to arise. The acceptance of this belief 
commits us not only to the doctrine of a prophet's omni- 
science of all the contingencies of spiritual and moral life over 
the whole of space and time but also to the theory of a perfect 
revelation of God's nature and will and of His wishes regarding 
the relation that should hold between Himself and man and 
among His creatures themselves. 

The question is bound to arise : How far can a prophet 
see? Can we believe that a finite being can prove a perfect 
receptacle of divine revelation and a perfect vehicle of divine 
expression? Can we believe that God chose this receptacle 
and vehicle not at the beginning of things nor at their end 
but at an uncertain middle point when, barring a few gleam- 
ing hill-tops of civilisation, the world was mostly steeped in 
dark ignorance and superstition? Certain it is that no 
founder of a faith ever believed that he was a mere reformer 
of old creeds nor does the world believe him to be nothing' else. 
Herein lies the distinction between him and those who only 
tinkered with faith and formed sects or started reforming 
movements. As Eabbi Leo Baeck observes : 44 " The mere 
reformer confines his efforts to the sphere with which he is 
immediately concerned. He creates new social or ecclesias- 
tical or political structures, but these, however important they 
may be, are limited to their own range. But religious revolu- 
tion aims at permeating the world with a new religious 
principle, and it is into the whole world that the new ferment 
is poured. It aims at a new world. This imperative comes 
from the Beyond ; this great contradiction of the world as it 
is, is one that seeks the ear of the whole world." What the 
prophets thought about themselves and with what justification 
we shall discuss in later lectures. In the meantime we may 
refer to those who have faith in the inexhaustible inscruta- 
bilities of the divine nature, in the reality of the temporal 
process and the concomitant evolution of all the spiritual sides 
of man, in the perfect possibility of a never-ending series of 

Clemen, op. cit. t p. 267. 


more and more adequate revelation of the nature and will of 
God, and in a better and better understanding of His ways 
with men and the world. We cannot do Better than quote 
the beautiful words with which Jung closes his paper on 
Psychotherapists or the Clergy? * : fl The living spirit grows 
and ever outgrows its earlier forms of expression ; it freely 
chooses the men in whom it lives and who proclaim it. This 
living spirit is eternally renewed and pursues its goal in mani- 
fold and inconceivable ways throughout the history of man- 
kind. Measured against it, the names and forms which men 
have given it mean little enough ; they are only the changing 

leaves and blossoms on the stem of the eternal tree." 
# * 

Of the eternal Tree of Eeligion the roots lie buried 
within the depths of the most primitive minds perhaps 
some of the elements that make for the social aspect of 
religious life are to be traced to those animal instincts that 
are responsible for the formation of animal colonies, herds 
and families. The first stirrings of the religious life may 
sometimes seem so different from what is familiar to us in 
its higher forms that we may be tempted to disown their 
spiritual significance altogether. But we shall be no more 
justified in disbelieving in the continuity of religious growth 
from those beginnings than a naturalist would be in rejecting 
the evolution of the frog from the tadpole or the butterfly from 
the caterpillar. Watch a plant shooting up and sprouting 
you will be surprised at the quick changes in the form of its 
leaves during the first few days : when they will assume their 
final form you will find very little that is common between 
it and the initial shape. An advanced religion is not only a 
continuation of primitive faith but it very often, carries, 
embedded within, vestigial remains of earlier forms, generally 
harmless but capable of producing injury under adverse condi- 
tions of culture. 

Of this -Tree of Eeligion, Magic, Sorcery, Witchcraft 
and such other arts of the primitive shaman or medicine man 

48 6. G. Jung, Modem Man m Seardh of a ffoul. P. 28*. 


would supply the invisible roots, and Animism, Fetishism, 
Totemism and such other primitive beliefs the visible trunk. 46 
From this trunk radiate many branches but of unequal 
vitality. Some of these are dead to-day either because they 
have been hewn down or because they have spontaneously 
withered or because their life-giving sap has been diverted 
into other channels of growth. Some, again, are carrying 
on with a low vitality but failing to proliferate into vigorous 
branchlets. Others again are vigorous and strong and deve- 
loping along a single axis. Others still have lost the growing 
point, but fairly strong collateral branches form a dense bush 
at the region of the truncated tip. Some of the branches, 
again, are being artificially nourished or invigorated by trans- 
fusion of sap from a stronger branch. Branches, that were 
once widely separated, have, again, by a process of expansion 
got interlocked with one another and are producing either 
friction or fusion. On each branch, again, dead materials are 
accumulating ; and when these are not being cast out o,f the 
system by the process of organic growth, they are retarding 
the vitality of the whole. Minor branches crop up and dis- 
appear on many of the main branches of this tree without 
affecting their general growth, while countless leaves grow 
and fall and keep up the vitality of the entire system by their 
synthesis of nutrient stuff. 

Of this great Tree three main branches are still living 
with different degrees of vitality in their subsidiary branches. 
These are the Semitic, the Aryan and the Mongolian religions. 
On each stem many subsidiary branches are now dead; 
similarly many independent branches have also died out. Of 
these dead religions the most notable are the Egyptian, the 
Babylonian, the Assyrian, the Teutonic, the Scandinavian, 
the Greek and the Eoman in the Old World and the religions 
of Peru and Mexico in the New. We may also refer to the 
Sumerian and Aegean religions whose remains have 
been unearthed in recent years. Many extensive cults have 

* See Soflilkumar Maitra, Religion and Magic, in the Journal of the Depart* 
of Letter*, Vol. XXVII (Calcutta University). 


also perished, such as Mithraism, Orphic cult, etc., while 
countless smaller creeds have flourished and fallen in the past 
and are doing so even to-day. Sects and schisms have 
occurred in most of the great religions of the world, but only 
a few of them have survived and the rest have been swept out 
pf existence altogether. It would be a mistake to think, 
however, that men live the great religions iHey profess in a 
homogeneous fashion. We all have our little snug corners 
of faith within the bigger whole of the common religion, and 
these form the smellier sects with which almost every religion 
abounds. Many of us profess one religion and live another, 
as when we adhere to the socio-economic aspect of an ancestral 
faith and develop an independent personal religion of devotion 
for spiritual nourishment. Some of us, again, reject cither 
or both of these factors of an institutional religion and become 
freethinkers or religious nondescripts. 

The above considerations apart, the living religions grow- 
ing on the Semitic stem to-day are Judaism, which has ceased 
to grow in extent, Christianity and Islam, both of which arc 
still growing vigorously at the 1 expense of the other religions 
of the world. Of these three, Christianity has gained in 
spiritual intensity also, because, unlike Islam which has prac- 
tically ceased to think 47 though not to grow because of the 
simplicity of its creed, it is still the object of intensive think- 
ing by some of the greatest minds of the world. On the Aryan 
stem we have a bifurcation into Iranian and Vedic, the former 
of which, after contamination by Magian and other influences, 
is the religion of the Zoroastrians of India (the Parsis) and 
Persia (the Goebers). The Vedic branch has divided into the 
three religions of Brahmanism (Hinduism), Buddhism and 
Jainism with their different sects and subsects. Jainism has 
become an exclusive cult, but tbe former two are showing re- 
newed signs of vitality after remaining dormant for centuries. 
Both had at one time spread beyond the confines of India : 

47 Although Islam is again showing signs of literary activity for purposes of 
propaganda, it cannot critically discuss the contents of the Qur'aa as Christian- 
ity does of the New Testament. 


possibly in a changed world their social organisation and 
religious practice would have to undergo some radical changes 
before they can aspire to expand again among the cultured 
nations of the world. On the Mongolian stem grew up the 
three religions of Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism, which 
did not possess 'the necessary elements of universality and ever 
remained confined to the Mongolian races. 

Where the conquering followers of a dominant religion 
have not extirpated a native religion or where a lower religion 
has not been absorbed in a higher one, a mixture of creeds 
has sometimes taken place. Hinduism and Buddhism, in 
their original career of conquest, gave rise to such mixed 
religions outside Indian limits especially Buddhism when 
effecting a cultural conquest of the Mongolian lands of Tibet, 
China and Japan. Sikhism is a union of Hinduism and 
Islam with Hindu elements preponderating. Brahmaism 
has borrowed its elements from Hinduism, Christianity and 
Islam alike, the Hindu element being again predominant. 
Eclectic beliefs like Theosophy can hardly be called religions, 
for they do not possess an independent and exclusive social 
organisation which all institutional religions are supposed to 
do. They can at best form religious brotherhoods on the 
basis of mutual toleration and respect among the adherents 
of different positive religions. 

In what follows we shall confine our attention to such 
religions as are still living and ignore altogether those that 
are dead and those that live within the protected enclosure 
of savage superstition. We shall see that there are certain 
fundamental beliefs without which no religion can satisfy 
the spiritual needs of man, and of these needs a right under- 
standing of the nature of God and His working and a right 
attitude towards the world of sentient beings are the most 
insistent. Compared with these, the rest are spiritually 
subsidiary, though from the standpoint of the positive reli- 
gions themselves they are very necessary as aids fo right 
flevotion and. proper ethicaliiy. Ignoring the historical .con- 
fext, ^we /shall, take. ?istlie text of our lectures the following 
beautiful words of the Qur'an (Sura ii. 172) : ' 'There is : po 


piety in turning your faces towards the east or the west, but 
he is pious who believeth in God and the last day and the 
angels and the scriptures and the prophets; who for the love 
of God disburseth his wealth to his kindred, and to the 
orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and those who 
ask, and for ransoming; who observeth prayer, and payeth 
the legal alms, and who is one of those who are faithful to 
their engagements when they have engaged in them, and 
patient under ills and hardships and in time of trouble : 
these are they who are just and these are they who fear God." 


We shall discuss now the special significance of the 
prophetic mission as contradistinguished from the functions 
of the sage, the priest, the preacher and the reformer. In a 
sense, the prophet is all these combined inasmuch as he is 
credited with spiritual vision, active worship, persua- 
sive eloquence and purified faith. Very often he is even 
more than these, for he has to legislate for his following and 
settle their disputes, and sometimes he has also to lead them 
to war and administer their conquests. A mere catalogue of 
these multifarious activities is enough to show that an all- 
round prophet must be made of a superior stuff and that 
a part of the homage paid to him is the homage paid to 
any kind of greatness by the world at large. To idolise a 
prophet is a species of hero-worship, as Carlyle has pointed 
out : that in his particular case idolisation very easily passes 
over into apotheosis is a very common experience. He often 
becomes the locus of mythical qualities and supernatural 
powers. Strange tales are told about his mysterious move- 
ments through space, his control over the elements and forces 
of nature, his conquest of bodiJy privations and sufferings, 
his miraculous cures and striking conversions, his seeing into 
the future, and divine and angelic aid in his mission. His 
birth must be heralded by angelic flourishes and attended by 
universal joy, his infancy must indicate his future greatness, 
and his death must be attended by portents and deeply mourn* 
ed by the living creation. 1 The forces of sin and evil are 
alarmed at his birth and try to tempt and thwart him in all 
ways : he becomes the central figure in a cosmic drama in 
which the forces of good and evil strive to take possession of 
him, 2 and the latter are ultimately repulsed to the infinite 
relief and ultimate benefit of the world 

* See Jackson, Zoroaster, p. 27. 

*8ee Jackson, Zoroaster, pp. 28-29, 51. 


Now, a close analysis of the powers and perfections of a 
prophet will show that they can all be summed up in one word, 
namely, the triumph of the spiritual over the material. 
Matter and space cannot obstruct the progress of spirit ; and 
if a prophet is possessed of a body, he is not encumbered by 
it to the same extent as ordinary mortals are. So Buddha 
crosses rivers without boats with as much ease ' ' as a strong 
man closes and stretches forth his palms," Jesus walks on the 
Sea of Galilee, and Muhammad makes his journey to Jerusa- 
lem through the air : nay, Buddha goes up to Trayastriipdat 
heaven to enlighten his dead mother about his creed, Muham- 
mad rides his mysterious Booraq to explore the seven heavens 
and meet the earlier prophets in different regions, 3 and Jesus 
descends into hell to give relief to suffering sinners. The 
births of Mahavira, Buddha and Zarathustra are presaged by 
dreams and that of Jesus by an angelic announce- 
ment; the last three are born of virgin mothers, 
and Zarathustra laughs on the day he is born. 4 
Mara, Satan and Angra Mainyu each attempts to wean 
a prophet from spiritual allegiance. A forty days' 
fast is nothing to many of these prophets and a three days' 
residence within the stpmach of a whale is only a bit of un- 
comfortable experience to one of the minor prophets. The 
sun stops in its mid-career at the bidding of a prophet 5 and 

a Apart from the ascensions of Enoch (Gen. 5.24) and Elijah (2 K. 2.11), 
who did not return to earth, there are Jewish parallels of Muhammad's achievement 
K. Akiba (50-180 A.D.), Ben Azzai (2nd cent. A.D.), Ben Zoma (2nd cent. A.>.) 
and Elisha b. Abuyah (end of left cent, and beginning of 2nd cent. A.D.) were 
regarded as having entered Paradise. This is a part of Merkabah mysticism 
(referring to Ezekiel's vision of the heavenly Throne-chariot). Abelaon, Jewish 
Mysticism, p. 49. 

* Jackson, Zoroaster, pp. 23-25; Stevenson, Heart of Jainism, p. 28 f ; Hopkins, 
Origin and Evolution of Religion, p. 65 (f.n.); Moulton, Treasure of the Magi, 
p. 117; Syed Ameer All, Spirit of Islam, pp. 8-9 (signs and portents aic said to 
have attended Muhammad's birth). For parallelism between the personal histories 
of Buddha and Jesus, see the quotation from T. W. Doane's Bible Myths in Khwaja 
BamaJ-ud-din, The Religion of Jesus and the Traditional Christianity, pp. 83-93. 

6 Jos. 10.13. According to the Iranian religion, Hoshedar will perform the 
ftqme feat 'at' a future time when the sun will stop for 10 days and 10 night*. Sea 
Cfturtelli, Philosophy #/ the Mandayatnian Religion under the Sassanidts, p. 99, 



the storms are rebuked into silence by another. Jesus tran- 
substantiates water into wine and multiplies loaves and fishes 
just as Kysna multiplied Draupadi's vegetable-shred to feed 
her untimely guests. Jesus not only restores Lazarus and 
the widow's son and Jairus's daughter to life but himself rises 
from his grave, as many of the pagan gods were supposed to 
have done, 6 and ascends to heaven as Enoch and Elijah did 
before him though not after death ; 7 but even his achieve- 
ments sink into insignificance when compared with the revival 
of a dead man touched by the buried bones of Elisha and the 
transformation of petrified Ahalya into living flesh at the touch 
of Kama. 8 

It is evident that into the delineation of a prophet much 
of ancient superstition about rnagic and miracle manages to 
effect an entrance. Exceptional spirituality has very seldom 
been conceived in terms of ethical height and religious insight 
alone. A prophet must possess, in addition, power to control 
the material world and to rise above its laws. In primitive 
times the possessed spirit was credited with powers over 
sickness and epidemic, and his incantations and magical 
rites were supposed to kill enemies, produce rain and even 
drive away the demon of eclipse. Evei-i now in India the 
credulous believe in the sanctimonious charlatan's power to 
turn base metals into gold and double currency notes, arid 
fairly educated men will readily swallow many of the old 
wives' tales about the miraculous doings of this or that petty 
saint. Muhammad's confession that he made a mistake in 
his advice to date-growers about fertilising their palms has 
the merit of frankness about it. According to the Freudian 
principle of repression and forgetfulness, unfavourable 
instances of prophetic activity have a tendency to be 
forgotten, they are also very often consciously sup- 
pressed in sectarian literature, with the effect thai-posterity 

Pringle-Pattiaon, Studies in the Philosophy of Heligion, pp. 188 f , 228 f. 

* see art. ASSUMPTION AND ASCENSION in EBB. ii. Cf. the death of 
Zoroaster by a flame, from heaven in Jackaon, Zoroaster t p. 124. 

, For an allegorical interpretation of the Ahalya story, see Babindra Nftth 
Tagore, A Vision, of India's History in Viswabharati Quarterly, Vol. I, JK 1& 


learns only about the hits and is kept in entire ignorance of 
the prophetic misses. Orthodoxy in all faiths takes every 
precaution to anathematize and extirpate the apocrypha be- 
cause this 'holds' up an "unworthy picture of the prophet tor 
exposes his feet of clay. 

A prophet is not only a successor of the shaman 
and the magician; in monotheistic religions he is 
very often " a substitute for one or other of the 
tribal gods and pagan deities. 9 It is now a 
Well-established fact that many of the Christian saints are 
really transformed local deities : a thin veneer of Christianity 
was thrown over them to win over their devotees, and their 
cults were perpetuated with a Christian significance. Many of 
the major festivals of Christianity are really pagan festivals. 10 
The social instinct of man has never taken kindly to the idea 
of a solitary personal god and has ever tried to furnish him 
with associates, as in polytheism, or with subordinate com- 
panions or personified qualities, like angels and Yazatas, 11 
most of whom were originally independent deities of the- old 
polytheism or gods of other tribes now incorporated within 
the monotheistic religious community. In Christianity, 
where the Jewish angels figure as colourless as the Brahmanic 
gods do in Buddhism, a persistent tendency toward trinitarian- 
ism satisfies the social instinct in relation to God. Muham- 
madanism, which began with a denunciation of this 
" tritheistic " tendency of Christianity, itself retained the 

* Thus, about the Hebrew patriarchs Lods observes, " It is a plausible supposi- 
tion that several of the heroes of the patriarchal narratives were originally gods and 
that some part of their adventures was consequently mythological in origin. Al- 
though the proofs are not very conclusive, we may admit with E. Meyer, B. Luther 
and Raymond Weill that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, before being presented 
as founders of certain holy places, had been 'their gods or " baate " : Abraham 

at Hebron, Isaac at Beersheba, Jacob at Bethel, and perhaps Joseph at Shechem 

One thing at least is certain, namely, that for the Israelite writers, the actors m 
the patriarchal stories were exclusively historical persons, human ancestors of real 
peoples and tribes." See Lods, Israel, pp. 161-2, 407. 

HStubbe, Rise and Progress of Mahometanism, p. 21 f. f Khwaja Kamai-ud- 
din, The Religion of Jesue and the Traditional Christianity, pp. 35-81. 

UMoolton, Treasure of the Magi, p. 9; Dhalla, SSoroa$trian Theology, 
pp, 06-100, 


angels as a& integral part of the creed 12 and latterly developed 
a theory of saints much on the lines of Eoman Catholicism 
which believed in these heavenly intercessors. All these show 
the innate weakness of the human mind, which is incapable of 
resting content with a unitary divinity and has a tendency to 
lapse either into polytheism or into angelolatry or into* prophet- 

"The most significant feature in the history of an 
epoch, " says Carlyle, 13 " is the manner it has of welcoming 
a Great man. Ever, to the true instincts of men, there is 
something godlike in him. Whether they shall take him 
to be a god, to be a prophet, or what they shall take him to 
be? that is ever a grand que'stion ; by their way of answering 
that, we shall see, as through a little window, into the very 
heart of these men's spiritual condition/ ' So far as the major 
creeds are concerned, the prophet came mostly to be venerated 
in 'course of time on this side idolatry, if not actually deified. 
Bud'dha was transformed into a god in the Mahayana school 
and an elaborate pantheon of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas 
with their female counterparts was evolved. In Japan tbis 
transformed Buddha became the centre of genuine religious 
devotion under the title of Amida. 14 Zarathustra again 
shares with Mazda the adoration of men in at least one verse 
of the Yasna and was later on credited with a. goddess wife 
and entertainment at the table of a supreme deity. 15 Con- 
fucius too, ' unreasonably neglected when alive,' was elevated 
to divine rank at the beginning of the Christian era by imperial 
authority, extolled as being equal in virtue to Heaven and 
Earth, and worshipped at his spirit-tablet as something like 
the ancestor of the whole nation twice every year. 16 Christ 

Faith* of the World (St. Giles* Lectures Second Series), p. 882: 
Lammens, Islam Belief and Institutions, p. 48; Robertson Smith, Religion of the 
Smites (1914), p. 180 f (In Islam the god of heathenism arc degraded into jinn), 

Carlyle, On Heroes and Hero-worship, The Hero aa Prophet (Blackie and 
Sons' Ed., p. 08). 

M Hopkins, Origin and Evolution of Religion, p. 880. 
W Ys. 43.31; Monlton, Treasure of tfid Magi, p. 76. 

Religion* of CMna, pp. 147-8; Clemen, Religions of the World. 


was very early regarded as the second person of the Divine 
Trinity ; and although Docetism, which denied his human 
character, was vanquished, the process of deification could not 
be effectively stopped. 17 He is Lord, Saviour, King and 
Judge ; and though fitful attempts were made, as by the 
Ebionites, to call him, in the language of Milton, " this per- 
fect man, by merit called my Son," it cannot be denied that 
Christ's utterances like " I and my Father are one " and 
" He who has seen me has seen the Father," have been mostly 
taken in a literal fashion and that the picture of 
God who became man but did not altogether for- 
sake his divinity looms large before the Christian 
mind. 18 In fact, in most of the later creeds the 
divinity aspect is carefully brought out even though the human 
aspect is not altogether ignored. 19 Tn India a prophet is very 
often identified with a divine incarnation even the heretic 
Buddha duly became an incarnation of Visnu, and within the 
memory of the present generation the sage of Daksinetfvara, 
Ramakrishna Parama^omon. has been transformed into 
Bhagavan Sri-"Ramakrishna, and now regular religious cere- 
monies are held in his honour and temples are being built all 
over India to enshrine his figure or photo. Muhammad, of all 
later prophets, alone seems to have escaped deification, 20 but 
no other prophet's personal habits and idiosyncrasies have 
been so faithfully recorded and followed by his followers or his 
decrees invested with such divine authority. Even in the last 
century, again, the Bab was regarded almost as an incarnate 

When excessive veneration, identical with or bordering 
on divine worship, is paid to a prophet it is no wonder that he 

See "Hopkins, Or. & Be. of ReL, Oh. XX. The Christian Trinity 
(esp. p. 887). 

M See Bethune-Baker, Introduction to the Early History of the Christian 
Doctrine (1923), p. 68 f. 

19 See art. CREEDS in ERE. iv; also Pringle-Pattison, Studies in the Ph. 
of Rel. t p. 205. 

W The Qnr'an iii. 78-4 condemns the deification of the prophet. The 
prophets were also not deified. 

Hopkins, Or. ft Ev. of ReJ^ p. 71, 


should be credited with all those superhuman acts which are 
possible only to a divinity. With the lapse of time the human 
lineaments of the prophet grow dim, and when there is a 
rivalry between faiths about prophetic greatness this kind of 
development can seldom be prevented. At one time people 
quarrelled about the greatness of their respective gods ; now 
they quarrel about the greatness of their prophets. So Christ 
must 'perform most of the miracles that the Hebrew prophets 
of old are recorded to have done ; and Muhammad too must 
be credited by a later generation with having made the sun 
stand still in the manner of Joshua and the water flow in imita- 
tion' of Moses and also with multiplying food and drink like 
Christ for his hungry and thirsty followers, 22 although the 
Qur'an explicitly says, " No apostle had come with miracles 
except by tfie leave of God " and " Nothing hindered us from 
sending him with the power of working mirac'ea, except that 
the 'peoples of old treated them as lies." 23 Tn the popular 
mind the idea of greatness is so inseparable from the idea of 
supernatural power that prophets and saints have mostly been 
credited with performing miracles as signs and credentials of 
theft spiritual greatness.* 4 As Streeter points out, 85 " At 
certain stages of culture and in certain moods the human 
mind demands miracle and in all countries and in all ages 
the demand has produced a supply." Even to-day no saint 
would be canonised in Roman Catholicism un^ss it can be 
proved tliat at least two miracles had been performed by him 
or at his tomb. Tn Inclia it is believed that such powers can 
be acquired by Yogic culture ; but the general Semitic tradi- 
tion is that they are the gifts of God or divine modes of bear- 
ing testimony to the prophetic character of certain chosen 

See GK F, Motfe, History of Religion*, Vol. fl, p. 477; Stnbbe, Rite and 
Progress of Mahometanism, pp. 160-62; Lammena, Islam, p. 75. Cf. Nimbiditya, 
-who did the flame feat, in Wilson, Hindu Religion, p. 00. 

Sura 18.88 ; 17.61. See Lammens, Islam, p. 51. 

I* See Cohen, The Philosophy of Mdmonide*, p. 101 quotation from 
Maimonides, Guide to ike Perplexed, 11.29. 

* ftrwter, The Buddha atuf the Chri#> p. 10, 


It is worthy of note too that angels are frequently sup* 
posed to be in constant attendance upon the prophets that 
they do not interfere more actively in the affairs of the pro- 
phets is due to the fact that these are unwilling to take angelic 
help for their personal benefit. But God does not always 
leave His chosen people or His prophet to the tender mercies of 
a cruel and sinful world. So in Judaism and Muhammadan- 
ism God himself (or His angelic host) lays low the enemies of 
God and His prophets, and obtains for the faithful followers of 
the Lord miraculous victory. Zarathustra had his Fravashi 
(guardian spirit), and something like this was also ascribed to 
Buddha at a later time. 26 This belief in divine solicitation 
for the prophet's safety secures for him comparative immunity 
from molestation at the hands of the ignorant who are afraid 
to injure him because of this Divine guardianship. 27 A mystic 
fluid or aura or force is also sometimes supposed to serve as an 
invisible protection and to overwhelm those attempting to 
lay their hands on the prophet. 28 His escapes from danger 
are mostly interpreted as miraculous, not to mention the 
warnings, conveyed to him through dreams and angelic 
agencies, about his impending dangers. 

Consistently with the view that the prophet has access 
to supernatural planes, he is credited with another power, 
namely, foretelling the future. In moments of ecstasy the pro- 
phet transcends the temporal plane and views all things from 
the standpoint of eternity. Things remote in space and time 
stand revealed to his gaze. The past no less than the future 
Buddha could see at a glance : he remembered all, his previous 
incarnations, human and sub-human, and he also foretold the 
future greatness of Pataligama (Pataliputra) and the hastened 
decay of his Church when nuns were admitted into his Order. 
The Jewish prophets foretell the fall of Jerusalem and the 
doom of many other cities as also the fates and fortunes of 
many nations and individuals. Sometimes they are informed 

26 See Griinwedel, Buddhist Art in India, pp. 195-96. 
See Wilson, Hindi* Religion, p. 180. 

The persons of priests are regarded as inviolable in many religions. See 
I Sam., 22.17, to instance. 


in dreams and sometimes in waking moments ; sometimes they 
profess to communicate divine utterances (' Thus saith the 
Lord ') and sometimes they transmit their vision as directed 
by God (' I saw ' or ' Thus sheweth the Lord '). Similarly, 
tongues were loosened among the immediate followers of 
Christ who himself also foretold some of the events of his own 
life. Muhammad too had visions of the future, though not 
of equal effectiveness. 

It is curious to note, however, that while prophetic 
knowledge of the future is regarded as a sign of spiritual in- 
sight, the attempt made by others to know the future is con- 
demned in most of the scriptures. Soothsaying and divination 
were almost universal in the ancient world. Oracles were 
delivered and signs of the future interpreted in Greece, Borne, 
Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, the Jewish States, China and India 
long before the rise of monotheism proper, and various methods 
were adopted to know the will of the gods or to ascertain the 
future. Buddha warned his disciples against dabbling in 
foretelling ; Muhammad prohibited the casting of lots ; 29 and 
in Judaism false and pagan prophets were warned against. 
The psychology underlying this prohibition seems to be that 
in the case of the true prophet foreknowledge implies special 
communication by God to His chosen of what is eternal I) 
known to Himself, whereas in other cases, e.g. astrology and 
divination, it implies that the course of the world is pre- 
determined and can therefore be calculated to a nicety, 
leaving Divine will and providence entirely out of account. 
Even in the apostolic age of Christianity a check was sought 
to be imposed upon unrestricted prophecy among the Apostles 
themselves, and with the growth of Church organisation pro- 
phecy entirely ceased. 

Two aspects of this prophetic vision of the future have 
had profound effects upon the evolution of religion. The one 
is apocalyptic vision and the other is the foretelling of a future 
prophet, of which Christianity and Muhammadanism made an 
effective use. The Qur'an definies a prophet as a warner, and 

*8ee Stubbe, op. cit., p. 178. 


although Muhammad had at first more in mind the idolatrous 
habits of his countrymen than their ethical iniquities, his 
warnings covered both classes of reprehensible conduct. Now, 
warning must have some reference to an impending calamity ; 
otherwise it would be ineffective as a motivation of conduct. 
The apocalyptic literature, which made free use of the imagin- 
ative faculty, used, as inducements to repentance and ethical 
action, the joys of heaven and the terrors of destruction and 
hell. On the one side was depicted the benefit to be derived 
from the acceptance of the reformed creed and from following 
a proper mode of life, and on the other was painted the gloomy 
picture of an ^impending world-catastrophy, from which un- 
believers and sinners would have no escape, to be followed by 
dire torments reserved for them in hell. Glowing pictures of 
the ascending tiers of heaven, corresponding to the varying de- 
serts of the virtuous, are to be found in most of the religions, 
and even Buddhism and Judaism, which at the beginning dis- 
carded a celestial motive for ethical conduct, were obliged later 
on to delineate the joys of the different grades of heaven with 
their different denizens. 30 Hinduism, Muhammadanism and 
Zoroastrianism had similar speculations ; and although in 
later Christianity the multiplicity of heavens was rejected, the 
picture of enjoyment of the many mansions of heaven stayed 
on and provided perennial motives of ethical action. Tn 
consonance with the ' three-storeyed f scheme of the ancient 
world, with Heaven above and Hell below and the Earth in 
between, it was even possible to conceive cases of ascension 
and excursion into heaven in flesh and blood, and Judaism, 
Christianity, Muhammadanism, Hinduism and Buddhism 
could all point to concrete instances of such singular prophetic 

But the apocalyptic instrument that the prophets general- 
ly used was not joy to be attained but doom to be avoided. 
They interpreted their arrival as a signal for divine judgment 
upon the sinful world. Of the old Jewish prophets, it has 

30 See Morfill and Charles, Book of the Secret 9 of Enoch, Introduction, 
p. xxx f. ; B. C. Law, Heaven and Hell in Budthist Perspective, Part I, flee. I and 
Sec. II; also Appendix, p. xxxii f . 



been pointed out 31 that they were rather censors than com- 
forters ; their spirit is expressed in the words of Amos, " Can 
a trumpet be blown in a city, and the people not be afraid? 
The kingdom of Heaven was nigh, and woe unto those whom 
it would find unprepared. The feast in honour of the coming 
heavenly bridegroom is prepared those without a suitable 
garment of morality would be cast out into the outer darkness 
where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Some 
of the Jewish prophets had indeed predicted the return of past 
greatness to Israel and put the nation in a mood of auto- 
suggestion, till the belief in their words begat the will to strike 
and to achieve temporary freedom. But it requires greater 
power than a mere appeal to the unconscious wish of a down- 
trodden nation to make it will for self-purification. And it 
is this that the greater prophets achieved. While one class 
was declaring the imminent arrival of a Messiah who, would 
free it from the hateful tyranny of its foreign masters, 
another class was preaching the nearness of the kingdom of 
Heaven and the necessity of repenting for personal and 
national sins. The function of the prophet is 1 to interpret the 
divine will and to convey warning to an erring nation, and 
his greatness is to be measured by the success achieved by him 
in these matters. 

Here we come upon the heart of prophetic greatness. 
It is not by his interference in cosmic functions by raising 
the dead or making a spectacular ascent to heaven, by fore- 
telling the petty events of the world, or making oil, wine and 
bread inexhaustible that a prophet establishes his claim to 
the gratitude of the world. Faith in his own mission need 
hot necessarily include participation in the meting out of 
divine justice on the Judgment Day, for Divine knowledge and 
Divine mercy scarcely need an advocate and an intercessor. 
The Vedanta Sutra wisely laid down that the creation, pre- 
servation and destruction of the world are God's own business 
and that even released souls have no share in them. 32 But 

a See Ctoyne, Jewish Religion* Life after the Exile> p. 98. 
BrahmMfitrs, IV. 4. 


the healthy instinct of warning others of bodily dangers 
ahead, to be found even among lower animals, can be profitably 
extended to warning against spiritual dangers as well, and 
we may readily believe that the keen ethical sensitivity of a 
prophet scents danger far ahead of the obtuse understanding 
of his sinful fellow-men and that his overflowing charity 
prompts him to warn them of the dire calamity impending. 
In this sense the prophet is really an incarnation of Divine 
compassion ; for, as the Old Testament and the Qur'an would 
say, God does not punish a sinful city or nation without giving 
it a warning through a prophet. 35 Bigotry and spiritual 
blindness have often stood in the way of taking hint from 
prophetic warnings ; but Divine Mercy operates before Divine 
Justice, and no plea is left to nations that they were overtaken 
by disaster without a preliminary warning. 

Now, prophetic warning has always had reference to a 
defective or degrading conception of the nature of God and to 
the adoption of an unethical conduct towards His creation, 
specially the world of sentient beings. We shall have occasion 
to treat them in some detail in succeeding lectures ; here we 
shall content ourselves with simply referring to these two 
major tasks of a prophetic career. Possibly in the last analysis 
the two problems would be found to be one, for man's concep- 
tion of Divine nature determines his conduct towards God's 
creation, and, conversely, man's attitude towards the world 
determines his conception of the nature of God. But prophets 
have generally treated both as independent problems, as the 
human mind is not so consistent that the purification of faith 
would automatically lead to social concord or that proneness 
to social charity would immediately purify personal religion. 
Contrary instances are too painfully numerous in history to 
justify the belief that a pure faith means a pure conduct- -too 
often has religion ended with an intellectual illumination 
without purifying the emotions and the will. 

The magnitude of a prophet's task can be seen from the 
fact that he has to rouse a whole social group into a conscious- 

8.7; 9nr v aa, xviii. 57-8 f 


ness of its religious and moral imperfections and of the neces- 
sity of abandoning its old beliefs and practices. Very often 
his lone figure stands out clear against a background of sordid- 
ness and social iniquity and makes the surrounding gloom all 
the more visible by contrast. True, he is found in Israel 
warning individuals in high places against their cruel and 
irreligious lives ; but these persons really stand as symbols of 
the tribe in which such things are permitted and condoned. 
A society that tolerates corruption at the top and has not the 
courage to condemn its leaders badly needs the service of one 
who is not afraid to champion the cause of righteousness and 
truth even at grave personal risks, and prophecy gains im- 
mensely in prestige when power mends its ways at its bid- 
ding. Prophets have very often found themselves in opposi- 
tion both to civil power and to religious aristocracy to princes 
as well as to priests, the one standing generally for unethical 
conduct and the other for soulless religious formality. They 
have sometimes, indeed, served as unconscious mouthpieces 
of the inarticulate protests of the dissatisfied and the oppressed 
sections of the community, and when they have thus voirocl 
the general sentiments of the social group their success has 
been immense and abiding. To use a biological analogy, then 
there is not a continuous, slight, insensible variation but a 
mutation of social thinking and social habit. But often they 
have had to set to work against the whole social group, and 
only faith in their mission and infinite patience have enabled 
them to persist in their preaching. Under such conditions 
their faith has spread very slowly indeed ; just remember that 
it took Muhammad nearly ten years to get a following of fifty 
persons and that Zarathustra could get only one follower in 
the same period of time. 34 

What prophecy can achieve in the religious life of a 
nation is best seen in Jewish history. 35 As distinguished 

M Stubbe, op. cit. t p. 84; Faiths of the World, p. 969 (gives Muhammad 
fifty followers in five years) ; art. ZOBOASTBIAKISM in EKE. xii. 862. 

, Pro-Mosaic Judaism was, as Lods observes, polydaemonism tinged with 
polytheism. There was belief in a number of mysterious powers, ill-defined at the 
banning but gradually taking on definite personal form and becoming localised in 


from the class of professional seers and soothsayers, who 
made a livelihood out of their strange powers of foretelling 
the future, there arose very early among the Israelites a class 
of men who did not want to he consulted but " were men of 
diverse callings, driven by an irresistible constraint actively 
to declare to Israel the word of its God." 36 They revealed to 
their tribes the demands of higher ethicality and purer faith, 
made through them by God, and promised to them, as reward, 
divine aid in days of adversity and prosperity alike. One of 
them, Moses, was credited with having led the race out of 
Egypt, nwide Yahweh the national God, and promulgated the 
Ten Commandments which Laid the foundation of their 
religious and ethical greatness, while another, Samuel, was 
instrumental in establishing a kingdom under Saul in which 
the direction of national policy was to be materially under 
prophetic guidance. Gad and Nathan, Ahijah and Shemaiah, 
Elijah and Elisah, all kept a vigilant eye on the policy of the 
state, and by their admonitions and activities sought to 
maintain a theocratic ideal before the nation, and to restrain 
the kings from private iniquities and " political and religious 

The abandonment of a nomadic-pastoral in favour of a 
settled agricultural life, the establishment of a mon- 
archy and the subsequent division of the Jewish 
state into the two kingdoms of North Israel (Sama- 
ria) and Judah, the multiple matrimonial relations of the 
kings, who wanted to humour their heathen wives, and the 
increase of ' mixed marriages ' fimong all, especially the 

definite sacred spots as baals or lords. There was a tendency toward monolafry n 
BO far as there was possibly a belief in an elohim, a Supreme Being or God, hut 
the existence of other gods was not denied and thus monotheism was yet to come. 
see Lods, Israel, pp. 252-57. 

M En?. Br. (14th Ed.). Vol. 18, p. 586 f ; ERE. x. 388; Clemen, Religion* of 
the World, p. 266 f ; G. F. Moore, His. of Rcl., Vol. 2, Ch. IT. For the distinction 
between seer and prophet, see Lods, Israel, pp. 442-48; Die. Bib., Extra Vol., 
p 650 f. See ERE. vii. 348 : " And on the fact of their own consciousness, the belief 
of their contemporaries, the unanimity of their testimony, the ethical quality of 
their teaching, and the beneficent results of their labours a strong foundation in 
laid for the truth of their assumption that they were the organs or instrument? of 
the Most High." 


upper classes, the building of the temple at Jerusalem by 
Solomon w and at Bethel and Dan by Jeroboam together with 
the persistence of the Samaritan sanctuary on Mount Gerizim 
in Shechem and of other high places, where alone 
originally offerings used to be made, brought endless 
complications into the religious life of the nation. The simple 
sacrifice on the altar in the open on a high place was replaced 
by a system of complicated temple-service, minute details of 
which were laid down in law-books, and in priestly codes 
which were suitably amended from time to time to find room 
for revised rituals. In place of the Ark of the Covenant, 
which had sufficed for Solomon's Temple, were set up gilded 
images of Yahweh in the form of a bull (the golden calf, de- 
nounced by Hosea) in Jeroboam's temple? at Bethel and Dan, 
and to keep up the show and pomp of worship, the gift of the 
king had to be replaced by a regular national levy or sacred 
tithe of agricultural and pastoral products. 38 Bam&th (raised 
altars) to Yahweh with or without images were strewn all 
over the country, and Jerusalem had numbers of them in its 
streets. 89 Images of protective and functional deities were 
installed in households, thus continuing the primitive poly- 
theism of the race in spite of the Mosaic revelation. But 
while religious symbols and formalities increased, the ethical 
aspect of communal life suffered comparative neglect, with the 
effect that the widow and the orphan were robbed of their 
riches, the poor were oppressed and left uncared for ;* the 
conscience of the community was blunted in numerous way 
and in place of true repentance an elaborate system of formal 
expiation reared its head. In religion also a spirit of laissez 
faire in relation to foreign nations prevailed, and it was freely 
admitted that while Yahweh was the special god of the Jews, 
other nations had also their own gods like Ohemosh, Dagon, 

Mr JB*or the syncretistic character of this temple and the pagan influence upon 
construction, see Lods, Israel, pp. 414-15. 

WRobertaon Smith, Rel. of the Semites, p. 246 f (esp. p. 261). 
See Knenen, National Religion* and Univtftal Religion*, p. 70, 
op. *, 


Ashtoreth, Baal, Milcom, Molech and others. 41 Nay, the 
multiplication of the sanctuaries of Yahweh himself revived 
the dying embers of a primitive belief in local deities, as in 
Egypt and Assyria ; and to the popular mind the Yahweh that 
thundered in Sinai or reposed in Shiloah, the Yahweh that 
ruled in Zion or Gerizim, and the Yahweh that figured in Dan 
or Bethel, Beersheba or Hebron, were not always identical 
and practically divided among themselves the allegiance 
of the tribes. 42 It was only after the reform of Josiah that 
Jerusalem acquired its importance as the sole sanctuary of 
God in the eyes of the nation (which it retained in spite of 
the temporary revival of worship at Bethel by the special per- 
mission of the Assyrian king after the destruction of its own 
Temple in 586 B.C.). 43 Sacred prostitution also effected its 
entrance, in spite of Deuteronomic prohibition, into the 
temples, which were also permitted to be used for secular 
purposes. 44 Israel fairly threatened to lapse back not only 
into its ancient polytheism and idolatry but also into moral 
corruption and religious inanity, culminating in human sac- 
rifices to Yahweh. 

Against this general decline of religious ideals the pro- 
phets waged an unceasing war till the spiritual gifts of a 
minority became the inheritance of the nation as a whole. 
Their task was indeed facilitated by the fact that the nation, 
even in the darkest days of spiritual degradation, did not 
forsake Yahweh altogether what it did rather was to join 
gods with God and to offer oblations and sacrifices to Him to 
the neglect of the spiritual side of worship. Although from 
very early times there was prophetic organisation as a national 
institution and the Eechabites kept to the ancestral tradition 
of nomadic life, monotheistic religion and simple worship 
without sacrifice and barbarous rites, the nation had chosen 
to follow false and fanatical prophets who had no objection to 

For Canaanite gods, see Lods, Israel, pp. 120-42. 

See G. F. Moore, His. of Rel.< Vol. 2, p. 23; Lods, Israel, p. 407; for the 
Origin Of "the different Yah webs, see Lods, Israel, pp. 156, 160. 
Lods, op. eft.* p. 413. 
44 J6M, pp. 409, 450, 


render homage to pagan gods and who fanned the political 
ambitions of rulers and led them to evil paths by lulling their 
conscience with the picture of God as an indulgent being 
whose stern justice might be easily averted by propitiation. 
Higher prophecy in Israel is characterised by a middle path 
between the opportunism of the false prophets and the con- 
servatism of the Rechabites it did not abandon the ideal of 
national greatness but spiritualised its significance. The 
Jews were the chosen people of Yahweh and Yahweh was the 
God of Israel the nation or its rulers could not break this 
covenant without dire consequences. 

It appears that the earlier prophets were more concerned 
about the purity of faith than about purity of conduct, more 
about tribal solidarity than about individual fortune, 45 al- 
though protests against the misdeeds of kings, as of David by 
Nathan and of Ahab by Elijah, were not absolutely unknown. 
The reason is obvious : the eTows were still surrounded on all 
sides by pagan tribes, who offered worship to molten or graven 
images and with whom matrimonial relations and exchange 
of culture were rapidly taking place. So, to guard the 
national allegiance to Yahweh, it was necessary to resist 
lapses into the idolatry that was so universal all around, 
especially when even Levites could be found officiating ijn 
Canaanite sanctuaries of Baals. 46 Immorality was a lesser 
evil than idolatry as it did not threaten the covenant with 
Yahweh. So God is made to tolerate the seven hundred wives 
and three hundred concubines of Solomon but not his worship 
of the gods of his pagan wives, while David's murder of Uriah 
the Hittite to get his wife was partially pardoned solely be- 
cause David scrupulously kept the covenant with God. Elijah's 
murder of the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal (we arc 
not told of the fate of the four hundred prophets of the 

Marti, Religion of the Old Testament, p. 192. 

For the relation of Yahweh to pagan gods, see Lode, Imel, p. 408 f. KHjah 
and Elifcha do not seem to have denounced the Bull- Yahweh wowhip in N. Israel. - 
B<^ Addis, Hebrew Religion, p. 95 Lode, Imrf, p. 411. 

to ottuaoB ? 

Asherah 47 which Ahab had made) is slurred over, presumably 
because it glorified Yahweh, while, on the other hand, Ahab's 
family was cursed probably more tor his idolatry than for his 
unlawful possession of Naboth's vineyard. 48 It does not 
appear that even of the system of killing infants either as 
foundation-sacrifices or in fulfilment of the command in the 
old Book of the Covenant, of which Canaanite parallels are 
known from archaeological remains, 49 there was any great 
prophetic denunciation. Ahaz who introduced this abomina- 
tion 50 does not seem to have roused prophetic wrath, and his 
grandson Manasseh provoked the prophets, the servants of the 
Lord, to denounce him, primarily for his idolatry and not for 
his filling Jerusalem with innocent blood from one end to 

To the lasting credit of the prophets, who left their 
messages in writing from the middle of the eighth century 
to the middle of the fifth century before Christ, be it said thttf 
they changed practically the whole character of the ancient 
Hebrew religion and transformed a nation into a .church. 
In their hands Yahweh was transformed from a national Grod 
into the God of the whole earth 51 so that no room was left for 
the gods of other nations or countries. Of course, the idea 
that Israel was the elect of Yahweh did not disappear nor the 
idea that He had his chosen seat in Zion ; but the prophets, 
beginning with Amos, showed that its implication was that 
Israel's responsibility, because of the trust reposed in her, 
was correspondingly greater and that her defaults could be 

tf W. Robertson Smith considers <this to be a later interpolation and a con* 
fusion between Aihera and Aitarte, the female partner of BaaL See Religion of 
the Semites, p, 1S9 V 

For the vindication of Ahab, see Lods, op. cit., pp. 4121-28. Lods think* 
that the curse was for the murder of Naboth and his sons and he sees in thia a 
sensible deepening of the conception of the righteousness of Yahweh (see Israel* 
p. 428). 

Lods, op. cit., pp. 286.86; also pp. 89, 90. 

o But MO tto caae* of Jepkthah the Giiedite and also of Kiel the Beth-elite 
(4 K 16.3t>. . 

UAddia, Hebrew Religion, p. 162; Marti, Rel of the OT, p. 131; 
Nat. Rel. 6 Uni. Rel., p. 119. 



less tolerated by God. 62 The prophets could easily point to 
the many sins of the nation as a whole and predict divine 
justice for its* iniquities, the instrument of chastisement being 
at first Assyria and then Babylon. The old idea that it was 
a matter of prestige with Yahweh to fight Israel's battles and 
to lead her to victory was abandoned. 63 Yahweh is on thfe 
side of .righteousness and He punishes not only foreign nations 
but also the Jews for their sins. 64 Such a God's favour could 
not be bought by sacrifices and rituals when the conditions of 
righteousness and true religion remained unfulfilled that is, 
when images were worshipped, justice was sold, power wan 
abused, and. political expediency and state-craft overrode the 
interests of morality and faith. As a punishment for her sins, 
Israel was to drink the cup of humiliation to its .bitterest 
dregs the loss of political liberty in both the kingdoms, the 
fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, the banish- 
ment of the nobles and priests to Babylon. Fitful efforts at 
reform had indeed been made by kings, presumably under 
prophetic counsel, 65 as when Hezekiah destroyed the brazen 
serpent which was worshipped in the Temple ; but again and 
again had the nation gone back to its pagan rites and admitted 
foreign gods into the sanctuary and permitted immorality 
and cruelty within the temple precincts. Even Yah well 's 
patience could be tired out by such repeated lapses, and then 
the nation was bound to face His wrath. 

But even in this conception of divine justice the prophets 
could improve upon primitive thought. It is not out of wrath 
that Yahweh will punish Israel, but out of love. Hosea com- 
pares Israel going after other gods with his awn adulterous 
wife whom he must punish but not without regret and love. 
Yahweh wants His love to be reciprocated, and not sacrifices 

H Marti, op. cit., p. 167. Amos 3.2. 
K Marti, op. cit., p. 16/5. 

** Elijah first ventured on the strange message that Jehovah wrought by 
national defeat no less than by national victory. See Addis, Hebrew Religion, 
P.. 134. . 

Ugoenea, op. oit. t p. 149. 


offered to Him or sabbaths and new moons and solemn assem- 
blies observed in His honour, which were not only futile, as 
Amos had said, but positively pernicious. Hosea predicts the 
humiliation of the kingdom of Israel as the punishment of her 
sins, but at the same time holds out the hope that, when she 
repents, she will be restored to the love of Yahweh. "The 
children of Israel shall abide many dlays without king, and 
without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and 
without ephod or teraphim ; afterward shall the children of 
Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their 
king ; and shall come with fear unto the Lord and to his good- 
ness in the latter days." 66 " Mine heart is turned within 
me, my compassions are kindled together. I will not execute} 
the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy 
Ephraim : for I am God, not man." 67 " And I will betroth 
thee unto me for ever ; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in 
righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindnesa, and 
in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness : 
and thou shalt know the Lord.'' 58 Through all the major 
canonical prophets, pre-exilks and post-exilic Amos, Hosea, 
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Deutero-Isaiah runs the same 
thought, namely, that Yahweh cannot put away Israel for 
ever, 69 and although, in accordance with His ethical character, 
He must punish Israel for her iniquities and even use foreign 
powers as rods of His wrath, 60 yet ultimately when she realises 
her folly Israel will be restored to Divine favour. 61 " Then 
will I give the peoples other and clean lips, that they may call 
upon the name of Yahweh and serve him with one accord."* 1 
When iniquity will -be put away and even the Ark of the 
Covenant will be forgotten, " at that time they shall call 
Jerusalem the throne of -the Lord ; and all the nations shall be 

* Hosea 8.4-5. 

a Hoses 11.8-9. 

n Hosea 2.19-90. 

Knenen, op. cit. f p. .107 f. , , 

* Ibid, p. 118. 

O Amos 5.18; see Addis, Hebreu Rclitfion, p. 141 

Be* Karon, op. **., p. 197. 


gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem : 
neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of 
their evil heart. "* Israel shall he the servant of Yahweh, a 
light of the Gentiles, the religious teacher of all nations, w> 
that Yahweh's commandments and fliorah may be proclaimed 
to all nations and His salvation may reach to the end of the 
earth. 14 Israel is to sacrifice herself for the redemption of 
mankind* 5 an expression that was to have such poignant 
significance later on in the history of Christianity. She must 
have trust in Yahweh in quietness and confidence shall be 
hr strength : " if ye will not believe, ye shall not be estab- 
lished. "* We may sum up the achievements of the Hebrew 
prophets in the following words of Driver and Peake : OT " The 
activity of the prophets was largely called for by national 
crises. They were moral reformers, religious teachers, 
political advisers. They held up before a back-sliding people 
the ideals of human duty, religious truth and national policy. 
They expanded and developed, and applied to new situations, 
the truths which in a germinal form they had inherited. The 
nature and attributes of God ; His gracious purposes towards 
man ; man's relation to God and the consequences it involves : 
the true nature of religious service ; the call to repentance as 
a condition of God's favour ; the ideal of character and action 
whjcK each should strive to realise ; the responsibilities of 
office and position ; the claims of mercy and philanthropy, 
justice and integrity; indignation against tHe oppression of 
the weak and the unprotected ; ideals of a blissful future, when 
the troubles of the present will be over, and men will bask in 
tbe enjoyment of righteousness and felicity these, and such 
as these, are the themes which are ever in the prophets' 
months and on which they enlarge with unwearied eloquence 
and power." 

Jer. S.17. 
&. 49.0. 

Enc. Br., Vol. 18, p. 588; Addfc, Hebrew JtoKgfon, p. 91*. 
7.9; 80.15. 

r., Yd. 8 f p. 501 


It was a great thing to have inwardised the religion. 
Yahweh is not holy in the sense that a magio fluid issues from 
Hi's Ark, and overpowers and kills the bold, the inquisitive and 
the careless, as it is said to have done the people of Bethshe* 
mesh and also TTzzah, the driver of the sacred cart, although 
no moral turpitude was involved in their conduct. 68 He is holy 
because He hates sin and demands atonement therefor or else 
punishes for unrepented misdeed. By the time we reach 
Jeremiah we find that Yahweh's interest is as much in 
personal holiness as in national purity, and that it is their 
own sins rather than their ancestors' that individuals hfcve to 
pay for in divine displeasure and personal suffering. When 
we remember how tribal in their conceptions nomadic rtefs 
generally are and how strong the sense of collective respon- 
sibility was among the Hebrews from the earliest times, so 
much so that the nation was supposed to succeed and suffer 
as a whole Especially from the acts of its kings or leaders, 
the discovery of individual responsibility was no small achieve- 
ment of the prophets. 69 But they achieved something more. 
The pious fraud or the happy accident by which Josiah Was 
put in possession of " the book of the teaching " through the 
chief priest of Jerusalem 70 not only enabled him to establish 
the single sanctuary of Yahweh but to recast the mote primi- 
tive Decalogue in which the ceremonial aspect preponderated 
o* er the ethical . This book, now known as the Deuteronomy, 
purified faith (forbidding graven images of all kinds, and not 
merely molten images, as did the older Decalogue) and taught 
love *>f God and obedience to His commandments. The last 
one was to have far-reaching consequences in later times as 
henceforth the task of the prophets lessened and that of 
the scribes or interpreters of the Law increased : but the Baby- 
lonian catastrophe retarded that process for some titne more 
and Jeremiah could still improve upon the conception of faith, 
as preached by Isaiah, by teaching that it is only the grace of 
(rod that can enable a man to serve Him with &eal and devotion 

1 8am. 6.10; 8 Sftm. 6.7. 
Marti, Rel. of OT, p. 178; Ezek. 18.1-9. 
Hebrew Religion, p 188 f, 


and .that Yahweh wants people to circumcise not their fore- 
skiif hut their heart. 71 

It is* one of those misfortunes that meet us frequently 
in religioiis history that the Hebrew religion, which won such 
glorious battles under prophetic leadership, shouKT suddenly 
stop in its career of spiritual emancipation. The destruction 
of the Temple and the removal of the leaders of thought to 
Babylon, which were instrumental in bringing the Synagogue 
into being (as sacrifices were forbidden outside Jerusalem), 
proved at first boons in disguise. But 'the naticxnV heart 
refused to be reconciled to banishment from the immediate 
presence of Yahweh, and a change in the royal policy at 
Babylon enabled the nation to rebuild its Temple *(516-15 B.C.) 
and to return to Jerusalem not only with chastened thoughts 
but also with borrowed materials of culture. Religion passed 
over into the legalistic stage, the gulf between the Jews and 
the Samaritans became more widely fixed, the Zadokftes prac- 
tically deposed the Levities from higher priestly functi6nfl. 
circumcision and sabbath were more strenuously insisted on, 
and even the annual festivals were increased and the system 
of sin-offering was instituted. 72 The great names of Ezekfel 
an3 Ezra, not to* mention the minor names of Nehemiah". 
Haggai. Zechariah, " Malachi " and Third Isaiah, are lnti : 
mately associated with this restoration of ancient faith ; and 
although faint echoes of the Temple being a " house of prayer 
for all nations " persisted in prophetic utterances, it 'was 
clear that the main current of thought was anti-Gentilic, so 
much so that the Jews had to send away their foreign wives 

n It is interesting to note that Bernard Shaw in The Adventures of the Black 
Qirl'in her search for God distinguishes three stages in the development of the 
Jewish conception of God. The first stage is represented (pp. 9-10) by the cere- 
monious worship, of a tribal God foil of wrath and vengeance and demanding, cruel 
sacrifices the type of God that Noah is supposed to have worshipped. The second 
stage is represented (pp. 11-13) by an attempt fo justify the ways of God to man. 
but not very successfully, as in the Book of Job. The third stage is represented 
(p. 18) by the religion of Hfce prophets, of whom Mirah is the representative : ** This 
is a third God/ 9 she said; " and I like him much better than the one who 
sacrifices and the one who wanted me to argne with him BA thwfc li* *<** 
at my weakness and ignorance." 

T* Marti, qp. <*., p , **. 

tOSt-EiJLlC JtJDAjStf 63 

the children born, of them. 73 Ezekiel's more moderate 
measures and the Law of Holiness propounded in his time had 
to make room for the more drastic measures of Ezra who had 
,the priestly- code, brought from Babylon, enforced in Jeru- 
salem. The new legislation pushed back all Hebrew religious 
customs to the beginning of things, varnished the unsavoury 
tales about the patriarchs and set these up as models of piety 
.and character. 74 It crystallised the concept of Satan possibly 
after Zoroastrian model, 75 tended to put on the same level oJ 
importance ceremony and purity, increased the importance of 
the High Priest and, while diffusing higher standards of moral 
life, made religion more formal. 76 When, by the beginning of 
the first century B.C., the canonical books, now known as the 
Old Testament, were fixed, no scope was left for prophetic 
inspiration, 77 with the effect that Yahweh took on a transcen- 
dent character and between Him and man was interposed the 
Law (and latterly the whole system of angels, and also certain 
abstraction^ as in Zoroastrianism). 78 Even the Messiani.c 
salvation as the reward of ceremonial observances was based 
more on political than on religious foundations. 79 In 
Yahweh's realm very little room was left for the Gentiles, who 
could not only not offer pure oblations to Him but also had 
no share in His salvation : Deutero-Isaiah's teaching on the 
subject was totally rejected and salvation was regarded as a 
reward of ceremonial piety and not a gift of Tahiti, 80 As a 
matter of fact, the tough-minded attitude of the patriarchal 
age that morality is to be practised without reference to a 

Ti/Mef, pp. 212-18. 

Miyfarti, op. cit. t pp. 195, 201; Lods, op. tit., p. 324 : " There is no* a tingle 
ritual, custom or sacred object whose origin can with certainty be traced back to 
the Mosaic period, not even tha ark." See Canon Lindsay Dewar, Imagination and 
Religion, p. 88 f. 

Marti, op. eft., p. 194; Pringle-Pattison, Studies in the Phil, of Rel, Oh. 
XI. Persian Influences : Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic. 

ft See Kuenen, op. c#., p. 157 f. 

77 Marti, op. cit., p. 186. 

78 Marti, op. cit., p. 217, also 222; see Kuenen, op. cit., p. 159. 

79 Marti, op. oit. t p. 227. 

W Is. 42.1-6; 49.6; 52.10. See Pringle-Pattison, Studies m Phil, of Religion, 
pp. 183-04. 


future reward, 81 namely, salvation, gave way before the tender- 
minded apocalyptic expectation of an age of reward for virtue. 82 
The genuine prophetic fire was now extinguished, and " any 
Jewish writer who believed that he had a religious message 
for his nation, a message of hope and encouragement, of con- 
solation or warning, after the manner of the prophets, had to 
put his words into the mouth of one of the worthies of old 
time, if they were to carry any weight or find acceptance with 
the religious public." It is not till we come to the time of 
Jesus that we find another prophet who could inveigh against 
religious formality with the same tone of authority as did 
the great pre-exilic prophets of Israel. No wonder that Jesus 
was regarded by some as Elijah or some other older prophet 
rebo*n. M 

If we compare the Hebrew prophets with the mediaeval 
saints of India, we shall have some idea of the secret ol pro- 
phetic success in Israel. There were, first of all, certain 
external advantages. The field of activity was small and any 
prophetic achievement was quickly reported all over the 
country. The population was more or less homogeneous, and, 
in spite of the rivalry between North Israel and Judah, all 
prophets spoke in the name of the same national God. There 
was, again, a strong prophetic tradition, and more or less 
organised bands or schools of prophets, who lived bv their 

faint echoes of the Temple being a " house of praver 
for all nations " persisted in prophetic utterances, it was 
clear that the main current of thought was anti-Gentilic, so 
much so that the Jews had to send away their foreign wives 

f n Jt is interesting to note that Bernard Shaw in The Adventures of the Black 
Girt* in for search for Ood distinguishes three stapes in the development of the 
Jewish conception of God. The first stage is represented (pp. 9-10) by the cere- 
monious worship, of a tribal God full of wrath and vengeance and demanding cruel 
sacrifices the type of God that Noah is supposed to have worshipped. The second 
stage is represented (pp. 11*153) by an attempt fo justify the ways of God to until 
bat not very. successfully, as in the Book of Job. The third stage is represented 
(p. 18) by the religion of the prophets, of whom Micah is the representative : " This 
if a third God," she said; " and I like him much better than the one who wanted 
sacrifices and the one who wanted me to argue with him so that he might sneer 
at my weakness and ignorance." 


monolatry into monotheism was readily accepted. It is indeed 
true that there was kingly opposition, especially when 
prophecy directly affected the private conduct or the political 
diplomacy of the ruler ; but very few prophets had to feel the 
ag<*&y> the persecution or the loneliness of Jeremiah. Then, 
again, the uncertain political future of the nation, 
sandwiched as it was between Egypt and Assyria 
(and, later on, Babylon) and situated in the midst 
of tribes, alien in thought and disposition, was 
bound to invest those able to foretell the immediate 
or remote future of the race with a certain amount of added 
importance. No prophet allowed the greatness of Israel to 
depart from popular thought ; even her chastisement was 
divinely ordained to bring her ultimate triumph and exalta- 
tion. To a nation, ambitious to rise but temporarily in 
distress, a political message, supposed to be divinely delivered, 
could not fail to be attractive ; as a matter of fact, Jeremiah 
had to pay th3 penalty of his prophecy because of its defeatistic 
attitude towards national ambition and pride. 

In India, for full nine hundred years, seers, 
mythologists and theologians were simultaneously at 
work. During the period from the 7th to the 16th 
century when the later Puranas were being written and 
the philosophical systems were being expanded there 
reward ot ceremonial piety and not a gift" of* ah$&rth and 
matter of fact, the tough-minded attitude of the patriarchal 
age that morality is to be practised without reference to a 

ft Ibid, pp. 212-18. 

74 Marti, op. cit., pp. 195, 201; Lods, op. oit., p. 324 : " There is not a single 
ritual, custom or sacred object whose origin can with certainty be traced back to 
the Mosaic period, not even tha ark." See Canon Lindsay Dewar, Imagination and 
Peligion, p. 88 f. 

W Marti, op. cit., p. 194; Pringle-Pattison, Studies in the Phil of Rel, Oh. 
XI. Persian Influences : Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic. 

ft See Kuenen, op. c#., p. 157 f. 

w Marti, op. cit., p. 188. 

w Marti, op. cit., p. 217, also 222; sec Kuenen, op. cit., p. 159. 

79 Marti, op. ci*., p. 227. 

"Is. 42.14; 49.6; 52.10. See Pringle-Pattison, Studies in Phil, of tteligion, 
pp. 188-54. 


tolerant in many cases of the existing polytheism and even of 
idolatry among the masses, the religious leaders themselves 
were mostly imbued with a deep monotheistic spirit, even 
though different saints called God by different names like 
Rama, Krsna, Hari, Siva, etc. They preached their message 
in songs, hymns and verses through the vernaculars of India 
and could therefore make a direct appeal to the hearts of the 
masses to whom Sanskrit mantras were an unmeaning jargon. 
Although the majority of the disciples of tLese reformers came 
from the lower strata of Hindu society and failed to prove 
able and zealous apostles of their creeds, it cannot be denied 
that these movements did much to expose the shortcomings 
of Hindu religion as then practised, and planted in the land, 
especially in North India, small bands of devout men alienated 
to a .greater or less extent from the caste-system and the 
religious practices of orthodox Hinduism. 

That they failed to leaven the entire community like the 
Hebrew prophets is due to a number of causes. They could 
not all preach in the name of one and the same God poly- 
theism was then as now the prevailing form of faith and al- 
though the saints intended to preach monotheism the names 
they used for God were bound to rouse sectarian jealousy, 
while a strange name for God would have made no popular 
appeal. We must remember that even Moses and Muham- 
mad had to use an already familiar name for designating God 
in their revelations they did not coin the words ' Yahweh ' 
and ' Allah ' themselves. 84 It so happens therefore that while 
the Tamil saints poured forth their lyrics in praise of Siva, 
the Alvars and the North Indian saints used Vaisnavite names, 
with the effect that as there was no national God like the 
Yahweh of the Hebrews the reformed movements made no 
universal appeal. When we remember that even the Brahma 
Sutra of Badarayana was twisted like a nose of wax by learned 
philosophers in the interests of sectarianism we can easily 
understand how deep was the sectarian feeling in India and 

MLods, Israel, p. 820 f. See also ft. H t Charles, E&chatology, Htbrew, 
Jewish and Christian, p. 6, 


what prospect there was of any reformer being able to recon- 
cile conflicting faiths under the banner of a single God. 
Truly the name was greater than the God, as so often averred 
by religious thinkers of this period ; people could be persuaded 
to change deep-rooted religious convictions but not the name 
of their God. 85 

One other fact prevented the wide diffusion of any reform- 
ed cult. The Indian saints were mostly imbued with the 
sense of personal weakness and what they generally sought to 
achieve through their devotion was not so much regeneration 
of the masses as personal salvation, the most notable exception 
being Caitanya who attempted a mass-movement through his 
sankirtana. But their personal influence and their preaching 
to a small circle bore fruit and at least one great religion 
Sikhism owes its origin to one such teacher, viz., Nanak. 
Here again, as in Judaism, political circumstances favoured 
cohesion and growth : it is not unlikely that but for imperial 
oppression thfe Sikhs would have remained in the same insig- 
nificant position of a minor sect as the followers of Bamfi- 
nanda, Kabir, Dadu, Charan Das and other mediaeval re- 
formers are at present. What gave these minor sects their 
lease of life is the necessity of a less costly and more direct- 
faith than what the ritualistic and impersonal religious 
organisation of Hinduism afforded. 86 The attractive personal- 
ity of the reformer formed the nucleus of their faith and he 
was, or very soon became, God incarnate to the followers, with 
the effect that instead of reforming the original religion each 
reformer became the founder of a sect with only indirect in- 
fluence upon the parent social and religious organisation. 
Thd rapidity and ease with which each religious genius 
becomes a god in India and stories of miracles gather round 
his personality, prevent the spread of the reform to the com- 
munity as a whole which, though often ready to admit reason- 
able evolution and purification in faith, is not always willing 
to accord that pre-eminence to the reformer which is demanded 

W For a similar Egyptian belief, Bee EBB. vii. 189. 

M Rhys Davids thinks that costly sacrifice was one of the causes of the rise 
of Buddhism.- See Buddhist India, p. 243. 


by him personally or by his followers. The Hebrew prophets 
too had disciples and schools, but they were never accorded 
divine honours ; the only one who claimed and was given 
divine distinction was Jesus, and he failed to purify Judaism 
itself and became instead the founder of a separate sect. We 
should remember in this connection that Christianity became 
a religion some time after Christ's death his immediate 
followers had no intention of being regarded as anything but 
Jews with this peculiarity that they believed that the expected 
Messiah had come and died and that faith must be mediated 
through this new Messiah. The message of Christianity wad 
regarded aa being ultimately meant for humanity at large * 
but as Judaism had ceased to admit Gentiles within its fold 
nothing was left but to forsake the Jewish Church and to pro- 
claim a new religion. 88 Even within the Christian community 
the question of Gentile conversion was quite acute, and only 
the forceful personality of Paul could triumph over the 
opposition of Peter and other Apostles who were for enforcing 
all the Jewish rites in the case of the Gentiles also. 89 Some 
of the mediaeval saints of India had the similar problem of 
absorbing Muhammadans within their Church, and it is these 
that had to recede most from orthodoxy and to found a separate 
sect; for Hinduism, while tolerant of religious experiments 
and even of atheism, had always insisted on conformity to its 
social organisation as a pre-condition of recognition and it is 
the defiance of this organisation that made rapprochement 
impossible. Even the intellectuals, who on philosophic 
grounds had at this time been preaching a purer intellectual 
faith, were devoid of that Semitic urge to force a reform on the 
masses and preferred to follow instead the divine advice, '" A 
wise man should not shake the convictions of the ignorant 
who are attached to action, but, acting with devotion himself, 

w That tins intention was not always present before Christ's mind hft& been 
pointed out by Basanta Ooomar Bose, Christianity, p. 49. See Pringle-Pattiaon, 
Studies in. the Phil, of /to., p. 164. 

tt See Harnack, History of Dogww, Vol. I, p. 4& 


he should make them apply themselves to all actions." 90 
What happened, on the contrary, was that to the gods of the 
community were added deified teachers and preachers, and new 
rituals were added to old ; the evolution of purity in faith and 
conduct in local areas and small sects was counterbalanced 
by the extravagant and errant fancies of later Vaisnava 
writers. A large-scale absorption within Hinduism of 
Buddhists, seeking shelter from Muhammadan oppression, not 
only introduced the questionable practices of a decaying cult 
but also social complications in Northern India, as the caste- 
system insisted on imposing disabilities on, and assigning 
tower social position to, the new converts. The old bottle 
refused to admit the new wine for fear of going to pieces.* 1 

Let us return now to the secret of prophetic success. 
While philosophers, theologians and ethicists have been able 
to influence and modify religious beliefs with the help of a slow 
process of filtration along with the diffusion of culture and the 
development of general intelligence, prophets have succeeded in 
spreading a contagion of faith, because, while the former are 
regarded as talking the language of man, the latter are looked 
upon as speaking the voice of God. Not only are their utter- 
ances supposed to be divinely inspired but tlie prophets them- 
selves are possessed with " an irresistible sense of vocation." 92 
The gopls (cowherdesses) of Vpndavana (Brindaban), accord- 
ing to Vaisnava accounts, used to leave everything precipitous- 
ly behind when Krna's flute sounded on the banks of the 
Yamuna : so did the prophets when the divine call came to 

G. 8.86. 

u The same process is in operation juot now although the present r*fonn 
movements in Hinduism are all secularly conceived and directed. It is easy to 
initiate fatftt (purification) movement in imitation of the absorption of the tr/Hya* 
mentioned in Brdhman* literature. But it is more difficult to find a smtebie men* 
of making the new converts an organic part of the socio-religious system, as Hindu 
society has lost in the mean time much of its earlier plasticity ; and it is still more 
difficult to create a new caste altogether unless large-scale conversion and inter- 
mhftnre of castes Md <**aum*le* ftciiferte the foraratfen of swell a new caste. 
Tbe Pw*n*s mention many irter-efcstas unknown to earlier writer* rittongh be 
Bhagrodgftft looks upon the cottftwioo of the vtrpu <eoloos and CM*es ) at ominous 
lor tte h*ra*n iwee (Bb. K i. 4D4>. 

WPringle-Pattison, Studi* in *** PhU. of JteZ., p 186 f. 


them. Buddha and Caitanya leave their young wives behind; 
Christ forsakes his family and Amos his herd and sycomore 
trees, from an inner impulse to obey the call of religion ; even 
the child Jeremiah felt the irresistible call to prophesy in 
lisping numbers just as Dhruva and Prahlada are said to have 
sung the praises of Hari in their infancy. " Yahweh has 
spoken, who will not prophesy? " And God reveals His 
wisdom not to the learned but to the illiterate so that there 
might be no doubt that the message was not forged in intelli-r 
gence but received in intuition. A Jesus, a Muhammad, a 
Kabir, a Kamakrsna what frail vehicles has God chosen 
through the ages to send His message to mankind ! The 
sway that the prophets have held on men's minds is due to 
the fact that their messages were regarded as coming from 
,God and they spoke with an authority not thein own. 93 

But how exactly this divine message is communicated 
to man will, from the nature of the case, remain obscure. 
National traditions and contemporary beliefs have coloured 
all theories on the subject, and even the prophets themselves 
are not agreed about the method of their own inspiration. 
Broadly speaking, prophetic inspiration can be divided itito 
four classes. These are (1) message by a divine incarnation^ 

(2) message communicated direct by God to a prophet, 

(3) message communicated to a prophet through angelic or 
some other agency, and (4) message found by the prophet in 
his own heart, the rational order of development being roughly 
4he order of the above statement* What exactly takes place 
in prophetic inspiration it is impossible to assess in view of 
the facts that inspiration is rare, peculiar and private, ' that 
'divine communication has to use a vehicle of expression very 
much conditioned by tradition, training and temperament, 
that genuine records are difficult to obtain for they very soon 

W This theory of inspiration as ecstasy is less widely held at present, lib ifl 
ifljw 'believed that instead of the powers and faculties of the soul being suspended 
in [Aspiration they are infinitely exalted, " toe supernatural intensifying the natural." 
Inspiration becomes enthusiasm or quickening of the human spirit by the Divine 
breath. See ERE, vii. 847. See also I Cor. 2.15. 


become overlaid with extraneous matters, and that the pro- 
phets themselves are not always fitted by their condition of 
mind or power of self -analysis to distinguish the uprush of un- 
conscious wish and phantasy, the revival of forgotten memory, 
and the revelation x>f objective truth. The many glaring mis- 
takes about the facts of nature and history to be found in every 
scripture have been sought to be laid at the door of prophetic 
incapacity to receive and express the divine message com- 
pletely, 94 the necessity of communicating through him only 
such ideas as his contemporaries would understand and appre- 
ciate (although at a later stage of culture these would turn 
out to be false), the occasional lapse of inspiration (inter- 
mittent inspiration) during which time prophetic utterance* 
have the value of personal opinions only, 95 or the incapacity 
of the followers to commit prophetic utterances to memory or 
writing and to transmit them to posterity accurately through 
Speech or other symbols. They have also been regarded as 
embellishments and fabrications of a later age calculated to 
round off prophetic revelations with such cosmological, sociolo- 
gical and historical data as were known and understood by the 
writers themselves or in their own times or were considered by 
them as suitable to show off the triumph, the superiority and 
the importance of their own creed. They are a part of the 
unconscious glorification of the religion in question, when 
not due to downright ignorance or pious fraud. 

Hinduism affords the best illustration of the first kind of 
prophetic inspiration, although, coupled with it, there is the 
widespread theological belief that God does not create the 
truths He is supposed to reveal. Even the divine mind 
haa to take cognizance of eternal and immutable laws 

"See ERE. vii. 848. 

W See ERE. vii. 849 for the view of St. Paul on inspiration. It is claimed 
that " while the Divine power which seized the 07 prophets was intermittent, and 
even that which worked in the Apostles was not without breaks and flaws, the 
inspiration of Jesus was continuous and perfect " (Ibid, loc. eft.). For the 'various 
theories advanced to explain its possibility, see Pr ingle -Pat tiuon, Studies in the 
Philosophy of Religion, Ch, XVU. The Christ of the Owed*. , ' 


embodied in the Vedaa, which' are therefore uncreate (apaurtt*. 
$eya) and are not involved in the general dissolution of the 
world at the end of each cycle of existence* Now, owing to 
human weakness or depravity, the perception of these truths 
becomes dimmed in course of time, 96 there is a general 
decline of spiritual vision and moral uprightness, and tfie 
necessity arises of God reincarnating himself to set matters 
right and to re-instruct the human race in those immutable 
laws of being and conduct. It is difficult to say that this has 
been the belief of Hinduism all along or that the Vedic seers 
were concerned very much with the theoretical basis of their 
own inspiration or that the divine incarnations were more 
bent upon promulgating practical laws of human conduct 
than upon righting grievous iniquities ; but at a later time 
the belief grew up that truth and morality were preached by 
God Himself either by His own incarnated life or by direct 
instruction. Thus Manu only lays down the laws of spiritual 
life as heard from VivasvSn (Surya), who had them from 
God Himself, and he communicated them to Iksaku from 
whom, through a succession of royal sages, the world received 
its spiritual wisdom. 97 The three major gods, Brahmfi, 
Visnu (or Surya) and Siva, were credited with having taught 
the human race, through minor gods or sages, not only the 
truths of religion and morality but also cosmic happenings, 
names of things, arts and crafts, and social and political events 
of bygone ages : hence God is significantly defined as the first 
preceptor, the teacher of teachers, in the Nyaya treatise 
Kusumafijali This divine function of instruction is certain- 
ly an advance upon the Greek idea that gods roamed the earth 
in the guise of men only to take note of human conduct. 

The exact prophetic function of each incarnation is 
difficult to establish and the number of incarnations also did 
not remain uniform in different accounts. The different in- 
carnationsthe Fish, the Tortoise, the Boar, the Man-Lion, 

ffflee Ifenu ten., i. . 

VBb.Gfr. iv. 1-0; but i0e Mam Sap., i. 58-09. 

* See EBB. vii. ttl 


the Dwarf, Para&irama, Bamacandra, Balarama (or 
Vasudeva), Buddha and Kalki were associated with Vinu- 
Narayana at different times 99 and were also added to in 
different Puranas to make room for additional teachers like 
Narada, Kapila, Vyasa, etc. 100 In the Bhagavata Purana 
such incarnations are regarded as innumerable, 101 though the 
later religious literature has not the boldness to assert like the 
Satapatha Brahmana, 102 in the theistic sense of incarnation, 
that " men are Visnus " a saying which is echoed only in 
the pantheistic sense in the later Vedanta formula " All arc 
Brahman." That only a Divine incarnation can preach the 
message of truth was certainly not the belief of pre-Gita seers 
and sages, for the idea of incarnation itself was of slow growth 
and throughout the whole range of Upanisadic literature the 
term ' ' avatara ' ' occurs twice or thrice in late sectarian books 
of the Vaisnavas, who alone defended the doctrine with any 
kind of system. The other gods, Brahma, Siva and Sakti, 
generally teach without incarnations the spiritual truths 
necessary for human knowledge and guidance. 

But when the Vaisnava theory triumphed in the end, 
most of the prominent religious teachers of later times were 
supposed to be gods reborn for the instruction of the world. 
Sankara is Siva himself and Bamanuja is Sesa, the Serpent- 
king, reborn. 103 Caitanya is an incarnation of Kr?na and 
Badha together, 104 and many of the mediaeval saints* were like- 
wise incarnations of this or that god. Even Buddhism caught 
the infection and Buddha was regarded as not having been 
born but as having voluntarily left heaven and assumed a 
human shape on earth to relieve suffering and teach man- 

w H. C. Roychaudhuri, Early History of the Vaisnava Sect, pp. 104-05. At 
Furi Vi?nu in the form of Jagannfitha takes the place of Buddha, and this probably 
reflects with accuracy the supplanting of Buddhism by Vai^avism in that locality. 

100 See Agni PurSna, Ch. 2 f ; Garufla Purana, Ch. 1 ; Bhdgavata* Parana, i, 3. 
See EBB. 7.193 fn. 

101 Bhftg. Pur., i. 3.26. 

108 S. P. Br., v. 2.6.2-3. (quoted in H. C. Roychaudhuri, Early His. of the 
Vais. Sect, p. 64). For the anticipation of the Avatftra idea in the Brfthmanas, see 
Belvalkar and Banade, Creative Period, p. 63 f . 

in Wilson, Hindu Religion, p. 16; Macnicol, Indian Theism, p. 71, 

M* Kennedy, The Ghaitanya Movement, pp. 94-96, 



kind. 105 He had come again and again in the past as occa- 
sions demanded and will do so again in future. 1 ' 4 
Jainism did not, it is true, regard its prophets as incarnations ; 
but it deified them when dead 107 and also believed that Mahfi- 
vira was not the first to teach the law of life although, 
unlike Buddha, he was the last of the twenty-four 
Tirthankaras of the present age of the world. 108 Christianity 
tod fought for long over the question of Christ's manifestation 
on earth as the Logos that was made flesh and the God-man 
who taught the way of life and suffered for the sins of the 
world. We need not examine critically the arguments of 
Saint Augustine and Saint Anselm as to why God became 
man and to what extent : 109 it is enough for our purpose to 
point out that the necessity of a divine incarnation to teach 
mankind was felt quite early in the Christian Church. 

The psychology of this belief is clear. Nothing can be 
so binding on man as divine command. A human prophet 
shares in the fallibility of men, and so his utterances can only 
be advisory but not authoritative. A divine injunction, on 
the other hand, is not only true for all times and places but 
is more likely to be obeyed, as Goc\ is the ultimate determiner 
of destinies and he who disobeys it does so at the peril of his 
soul. The very fact that many of the prophets expected or 
taught that their teachings would be backed by divine sanc- 
tions shows that it was felt that unless prophecy could some- 
how be connected with God it would fail to command attention 
and obedience. In the idea of God incarnating himself as 
man there is the additional belief that the prophetic teaching 
was not meant to present an impossible standard of ethical 
life, inasmuch as the human incarnation of God showed by 
actual living to what perfection of conduct and wisdom human 

105 Buddhistic docetism is not unknown. See EKE. vii. 188. 

106 See M. N. Dufct Sastri, BudcUia, Ch. VII, for facts and references; also 
EBB. vii. 184. 

107 EKE. vii. 466. 

108 For the predecessors of Mah&vlra, see Stevenson, Heart of Jiu'ntm, Ch. 
IV; Nahar and Ghosh, Epitome of Jainism, Appendix D; EKE. vii. 466. See also 
Gronwedel, Buddhist Art in India, p. 190. 

io See Bethune-Baker, op. ctt., p. 349, 


nature could rise here below. It is almost certain that tlie 
process of apotheosising the prophet precedes the belief that 
he is a divine incarnation and that the mind, unable to com- 
prehend how so much wisdom and goodness could reside in a 
mere man, ends by supposing that God (or a god) has come 
down below in the form of a prophet. In the theory of 
periodical incarnation provision is sought to be made for the 
relativity of revelation to the needs of the time and the intelli- 
gence of the hearers, except when it ia taught that it is the 
same law that is preached by successive prophets (as was done 
by Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism). 

Those who are unable to see why God should choose to 
assume a human form, with all the imperfections incidental 
thereto, in order to enlighten man about his duties have 
assigned to the prophet a much humbler role. God is well 
able to communicate to man His wishes and thoughts without 
undergoing the trouble of descending on earth and raising 
ticklish questions about the exact mode and character 
of His earthly appearance and the relation between His abid- 
ing self and His transient manifestation. Is the essence of 
God partible? Was Christ of .the same substance or only of 
a similar substance with God? Did he have a single nature or 
will, or two natures or wills, and what exactly was the relation 
between the two natures or wills if the latter supposition were 
correct? 110 Was Krsna a full manifestation of Visnu or only 
a partial one like the other avataras? Were Tara^urama and 
BSinacandra, or Krsna and Balarama, independent but con- 
temporaneous manifestations? How could one avatara fight 
against another? These are some of the thorny questions that 
arc inevitable on the theory of Prophet as a Divine Incarnation 
and were actually raised in Christianity and Vaisnavism. To 
steer clear of all these difficulties, let us suppose that God has 
not to assume any human form to teach mankind personally ; 
all that He has to do is to reveal Himself to a Prophet and to 
make known through him the laws of life. Shall we go behind 

1 See Pringte-PattUon, # the PhUotophi of Religion, Ch. XVII. 

76 TttE NAUJhE Otf DlVINB 

the prophetic age and suppose, like the writer of the 
Brhadarapyaka Upani?ad, that Prajapati the moral law-giver 
is thundering audibly to all gods, men and demons alike 
da, da, da to be interpreted as damyata, ' be self -restrained ,' 
by the gods; datto, ' be liberal/ by men; dayadhvam, ' be 
pitiful/ by the demons, in other words, asking each class to 
control its own characteristic failing of anger, avarice and 
cruelty respectively? 111 Or shall we, like the writer of the 
Indra-Virocana episode in the Chandogya Upanisad, 112 believe 
that Prajapati can impart His instructions only to certain 
gifted individuals who have been prepared by training or 
temperament to receive divine communications? that it was 
to Indra of the gods and Virocana of the demons that He 
revealed the progressive scheme of self-knowledge, by which 
alone is everything else obtained, and that each of them could 
understand it only according to his own intellect and inclina- 

Experience has practically decided the issue in this 
matter. Every religion has been obliged to admit that 
spiritual insight is a gift of God and that, while every one is 
capable of rising to some intellectual and spiritual height by 
years of instruction and discipline, the revelation of the 
mysteries of existence and the principles of ethical conduct 
comes like a sudden flash of insight to the prophet. Of course, 
there are prophets and prophets. The Muhammadans believe, 
for instance, that while there have been thousands of minor 
prophets in all times and climes, apostles or messengers of 
God have been very few, the greatest of them according to 
the Qur'an being Noah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Moses and 
Jesus and also, of course, Muhammad, " the seal of the 
prophets/' The Hebrews too made a distinction between 
those who sought by divination and sorcery to ascertain 
Yahweh's will and those like Elijah, Amos, Jeremiah and 
others whom God inspired to prophesy, sometimes even in 

Ar. Up. 5.1-3. 
u* Cb. Up. 8.7-12. 

spite of their will. 113 St. Paul again speaks of the differences 
in equipment of persons with peculiar gifts; " Now, ye arc 
the body of Christ, and severally members thereof. And God 
hath set people within the Church to be first of all apostles, 
secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then workers of miracles, 
then healers, helpers, administrators and speakers in tongues 
of various kinds." 114 

Now when God singles out Moses for receiving His laws 
instead of Himself descending on earth in a human form, \vo 
may very well suppose that of all the prophets of the time, 
Jewish and non-Jewish, Moses could alone see that a 
God who could materialise Himself in images, trees 
or stones or who could assume an animal form or even 
a human form, as Shamash the Sun-God is represented 
as doing to Hammurabi, was not wholly spiritual and 
formless. The difficulty is that Yahweh was represented 
quite anthropomorphically in the oldest ( ?) traditions of the 
Bible. To quote D'Alviella : " Yahweh moulds man like a 
potter ; he plants the garden of Eden and walks through it in 
the cool of the evening like a rich Mesopotamian. Adam 
hears his footsteps. He comes down from heaven to see the 
building of the Tower of Babel. He eats and drinks with 
Abraham, and the latter washes his feet. He struggles with 
Jacob and allows himself to be overcome. ' ' We must remem- 
ber, however, that all such dealings of Yahweh in human 
form with Adam and Abraham and Jacob were only crude 
Semitic myths, based mostly on Babylonian model and 
concocted after the return from the Exile and designed 
to create a belief that there was a time when even 

113 The title, JVobt, prophet, is used of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a deposi- 
tories of the worship of the one true God, but with a mission restricted to their own 
families; whereas Houd t Saleh, Shoaib, etc., are designated as (Resoul) apostles and 
envoys, charged with a more extended mission to the tribes of Arabia. In Moses, 
Jesus, and Muhammad, etc., are united the office and gift of both prophet (nabi) 
and apostle (resoul). Rodwell's Koran (p. 114 f.n), xix. 

See also Foundations, p. 97 : "A call is not the same thing as conversion. 
The one is a summons to a new work, the other to a new ideal; the' one is merely 
a change of activity, the other a change of heart. Doubtless the two often go 
together, as for instance in the case of St. Francis of Assisi, but they are separable 
both in thought and experience." 

Hi I Cor. 12J2748. 


the Jewish God was a tangible and visible being like 
the gods of the heathens but that this privilege of 
vision was withdrawn from a sinful world of later 
times. As a matter of fact, the struggle between visible and 
invisible God persists in the Mosaic stories all through, and 
even where invisibility wins, Yahweh's manifestation of 
Himself through voice and writing is not supposed to affect 
his formlessness. 115 But the tradition of visibility dies hard : 
would people believe Moses if he does not get his laws from 
the immediate presence of God? So Yahweh tells Aaron and 
Miriam that, unlike other prophets who can see Him only in 
dreams, Moses shall behold His form and with him He would 
speak mouth to mouth, even manifestly and not in dark 
speeches 116 a fact which is historically recorded in the 
Deuteronomy (34.10). A compromise between the two posi- 
tions is effected when Yahweh appears not in His proper form, 
if He has any, but through visible symbols a burning bush, 
a column of smoke or fire or thick darkness, a flash of fire or 
lightning, a thundering, a something which is vaguely defined 
as ' glory ' to make His presence known. 117 But howsoever 
Yahweh might have appeared to Moses, the latter claimed to 
have received two tablets of stone from Yahweh with writings 
actually inscribed by Him (Exod. 32.16) or to have written 
out the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments, upon 
the tables under Divine dictation (Exod. 34.28). In a 
similar fashion, Zarathustra is represented in the Behiptun 
inscription as standing face to face with Ahura Mazda 118 and 
questioning Him about the laws of spiritual life. Whatever 
might have been the oldest Zarathustrian belief, a later age 
delighted to represent Zarathustra as questioning Ahura 
Mazda face to face and receiving a reply direct from Him 

iKDeut. 4.19. Cf. Qur'an, 7.189. 

lift Num. 12.5-8. 

i 17 It is difficult to make out what ia intended by saying that Moses would 
not be able to see God's face but he would be able to see His back when His hands 
would be taken away from his eyes (Ex. 93.20). But if God so ordains, He may 
allow His face to be seen (Gen. 82.30; Ex. 24.10-11; Judges 6.23). 

ii The identification is doubtful See Dr. Modi Memorial Volume, p. 61 f; 
also Dhalla, Zoroaqtrian Theology, p. 221. 


about the multiple duties of his religious community. 119 
Similarly is Bamakrsna Paramahamsa represented as talking 
to Mother Kali in her temple at Daksine6vara, and she is sup- 
posed to have taken food at his hand. 120 So also does Manikka- 
vasagar, while out for finding horses for his king, meet Siva 
in the form of a guru with the Siva-nama-bodham of Meykan- 
dar in his hand, and thereafter compose his celebrated work 
Tiruv&fagam, which revived Saivism in South India quickly 
and permanently. 121 We need not lengthen the list by citing 
instances where God appears only in a vision or a dream and 
commands a prophet to take up the work of evangelisation. 

The belief underlying this theory of divine communica- 
tion is that God is ever watchful of the morals of man and 
does not have to reach His human adulthood on earth to warn 
against and right wrongs. He takes possession of a human 
soul whenever He wants to make His wishes known and, 
according to, the inscrutable ways of His operation, it is not 
often the learned or the chaste that is chosen for His work. 
The prophet is chosen for his transparency as a medium of 
communication, just as in hypnotism and psychical pheno- 
mena only certain individuals are suitable subjects. Who, for 
instance, could diagnose from the wanton youth of St. Augus- 
tine and Bilvamaflgala that they would one day sway 
thousands of human hearts by their religious zeal? So we 
may suppose that when the inspiration comes, a man acts as 
one possessed, he behaves as the visible flute of an invisible 
musician who plays upon his tongue and gives it utterance. 
The prophet has no doubt that although the vocal function is 
his own, the thought and language are God's ; he transmits 
what he receives and has no hand in the composition of the 
message. The prophetic soul communes with God in secret ; 
there is no collective vision of God nor does the profane enr 
hear with the prophet the voice of Heaven except when God 
so pleases. But there is a ring of truth and authority in the 

U9 But see Dhalla, Zor. Theo., p. 20. See Ys. 28.11; 81.3. 
1M Max Miiller, Ramakrishna, p. 36. 
WMacniool, Indian Theism, p. 179. 


prophetic message and the world is obliged to hear and to 
obey. While there is obvious truth in the proposition that 
God's ways are mysterious and that all are not equally fitted to 
receive divine communication, there is an obvious danger in 
accepting the exclusiveness of divine inspiration. The diffi- 
culty becomes greater when such inspiration is not regarded 
as intermittent in character, as occasional flashes of insight 
into the mysteries of divine working, but as a continuous life 
in God. Such continuous inspiration is claimed, for instance, 
for Jesus Christ and for the fivanmuktas in Hinduism who, it 
has been said, can do no wrong and acquire no merit or de- 
merit for their actions and are, therefore, completely released 
on the dissolution of their body. We are to suppose that in 
such cases the flesh has been completely conquered and the 
lower impulses totally suppressed and that the soul lives 
continuously in the plane of the Eternal. The physiology 
and the psychology of such god-like men are necessarily 
obscure to us and any claim on their behalf must be substan- 
tiated by reference to the continuous functioning of those 
powers which a prophet in his intermittent inspirations claims 
to possess and exercise. Any lapse in insight or action is 
bound to rouse scepticism. Even in the case of intermittent 
inspiration it is difficult to see what purpose is served by 
supposing that God must be physically proximate to the 
prophet to inspire him the whole process of verbal inspira- 
tion looks too much like earthly intercourse between finite 
spirits. Besides, the processes of ecstasy, possession, vision, 
etc., are coming increasingly within the scope of psychology, 
and the uprush of unconscious or subliminal thoughts and 
tendencies can in many cases explain satisfactorily the 
accession of sudden powers and peculiarities as also sudden 
changes in character of the prophets. While an influx of 
inspiration from an outside reality cannot be definitely barred 
out, it may also be that religious stimuli a flash of lightning 
or a peal of thunder, a dazzling light or a roaring wind are 
worked up by a sensitive mind in such a way that a physical 
presence of God is felt, notwithstanding the fact that 


God may after all be entirely formless and spiritual. 122 And 
this physical proximity of God has sometimes been claimed by 
those who did not possess such an extraordinary moral life as 
to deserve being singled out for such signal divine favour. It 
is only fair to add, however, that a prophet should be judged 
not by the moral standard of a later enlightened age but by the 
standard of conduct prevalent in his own time ; and, judged 
by this criterion, those prophets who succeeded in convincing 
their fellowmen that they had been sent by God would com- 
pare very favourably with their contemporaries in point of 
uprightness and devotion. 

We pass on now to consider those prophets who had such 
an exalted idea of divine majesty that they could not believe 
that He would ever revecil directly His message to man. While 
the mystic seeks union with God through ecstasy and love, the 
prophetic mind keeps God at a respectful distance, dreading 
the familiarity that breeds contempt. God in his ineffable 
grandeur, transcendental majesty and formless spirituality ip 
wholly inaccessible to direct human cognition of the type 
contemplated in the theories of incarnation and visible pre- 
sence. 123 Who can look upon the face of the Lord and yet 
live? 124 Did not Moses fall down in a swoon when in his pre- 

128 Of. Lods, Israel, pp. 456-57 : " Some of the features of the conception of 
Jahweh are derived from ancient times, prior tot the age of Moses, when the God of 
Sinai was associated with certain natural phenomena such as lightning, storm, 
earthquake and fire, possibly because the sacred mountain was a volcano. The 
story was told that, like the volcano, Jahweh had appeared to the Israelites in the 
wilderness under the form of a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. 
He had revealed himself to Abraham as a blazing torch and a smoking furnace 
(Gen. xv. 17). The temple was filled with smoke when the ark was brought into 
it in the time of Solomon (I Kings viii. 10-11) and when Isaiah received the vision 
there which called him to the prophetic office (Tsa. vi. 4) thunder was the voice of 
Jahweh (Amos i. 2 ; Ps. xxix. 3-9). Poets described the inarch of Jahweh shroud^l 
in dark clouds, discharging hail-stones and coals of fire (Judges v. 4-5; Ps. Ixviii. 
8-10; Isa. xix. 1; Ps. xviii. 8-15; Bzck. i). The God of Sinai appeared to Moses 
" in a flame in the midst of a bush." " The glory of Jahweh " was a divine fire 
of dazzling brightness flashing out at intervals from the storm-cloud which con- 
cealed it (I Kings viii. 11; Isa, vi. 8-4; of. Bxod. xvi. 10; xxiv. 16-17); sometimes 
this fire seems to be thought of a surrounding (for example, Bxod. xxxiv. 29-85), 
sometimes as constituting the body of the deity. The chariofts and horses of the 
heavenly host are of fire (2 Kings ii. 11 ; vi. 17)." 

WSQur'an 6.102; 75J22-3. 

I* Bxod. 20.19; see Lods, op. c*t., p. 458, 



sumptuous inquisitiveness he wanted to see God and God 
turned a mountain to dust before his eyes? 125 What the 
Upanisad regarded as the triumph of divine revelation, name- 
ly, that the knower of Brahman himself becomes Brahman 
(Brahmavit Brahma eva bhavati), the Semitic mind looked 
upon as a danger ; that is why the punishment for eating of the 
tree of knowledge was so dire, for the creature would begin to 
consider himself as equal to the Creator and the prophet would 
imitate the language of the Vedic Seer Vamadeva, " F was 
Manu, I was the Sun/' Did not Christ use similar language 
and claim that he who had seen him had seen the "Father? 
Did not certain Sufis substitute themselves for God as when 
one of them, Hallaj, said, " I am the Truth," and another, 
Abu Yazld BistamI said, " Praise be to me ! How great is 
my glory! >>126 

Now if earthly rulers can carry out their intentions 
through officials, how much easier is it for the King of kings 
to manage the divine government of the world without having 
to look to. the details of administration or to communicate His 
wishes to His subjects personally? God is not what Epicurus 
thought He was, namely, a disinterested spectator of the 
world : but then He is not also so much intimately associated 
with it as to leave no room for others to deputise for Him in 
its government. He may, and does, indeed govern directly 
if occasions so demand, as when he personally visits iniquity 
with punishment ; but generally He prefers to work through 
His angelic messengers, who not only communicate His 
wishes to man but also help the just in their fights by His 
order. 127 God's direct dealings are with the denizens of 
Heaven and these mediate between God and man in a number 
of different capacities. 

In Hinduism, for instance, the divine lore of Siva 
(agaraa) is mostly revealed to his spouse Parvati or Devi, and 
it is she who spreads the wisdom on earth presumably through 

i*Qnr f an 7.189. 

l * Lammens, 7,92am, p. 123. 

127 Quran 3.121; 8.9. 


other intermediaries. Similarly, her own lore (nigama) IK 
revealed to heavenly denizens and through them disseminated 
here below. Vohu Mano and Sraosha perform an analogous 
function in Zoroastrianism. In Judaism again, under Neo- 
Platonic and Gnostic influences, the transcendental character 
of Yahweh was augmented and a hierarchy of heavenly beings 
with ill-defined functions of mediation between Him and man 
was postulated. 128 Both Jesus and Muhammad are repre- 
sented as believing in the existence of these intermediaries ; 129 
but while in the Bible some minor functions are ascribed to 
them, e.g., Annunciation to Virgin Mary of her immaculate 
conception, the Qur'an ascribes to one of them, Jibril 
(Gabriel), the glorious task of revealing to Muhammad from 
time to time verses from the Heavenly Book in which God's 
thoughts and wishes about proper living are all recorded in 
Arabic. 130 The Prophet does not receive his revelations from 
God direct as Moses is said to have done ; 131 he gets them 
second-hand, but lie has no doubt that he is faithfully report- 
ing the authentic wishes of God is they are recorded in the 
Heavenly Qur'an and as they descended on his heart through 
Gabriel over a long period of 23 years (610-632 A.D.). 

Although the angels are coining into fashion in contem- 
porary thought, 132 there is no doubt that in Semitic religions 
they served the purpose of the discarded gods of polytheism 
whose visible symbols the people had so long worshipped and 
addressed face to face. They were dethroned from their in- 
dividual eminence and made to serve as divine messengers and 
agents and to keep up the regal pomp of the Heavenly Court. 
They became the ' sons of God ' in Jewish religion, but some 

i Maitreya, Universal Religion, p. 236; eee alsoDhalla, Zor. Theo., pp. 27-29, 
102, 228-9. 

1*9 For a similar Sabaoan belief, see Stubbe, op. cit., pp. 12-18. 

130 Lammens, op. cifc., pp. 48-49. 

131 For a very full discussion regarding the nature of revelation to Muhammail, 
see An Introduction to the Commentary of the Holy Qoran (Eng. Tr. of Al Bayan) 
by Maulvi Abu Muhammad Abdul Haqq Haqqani (p. 216 f). M Muhammad haa 
occasionally eeen God in his glories and spoken to Him, but in this, state (the revela- 
tion of the Qoran did not take place." (Ibid, p. 218.) 

wa See Alexander, Space, Time and Deity, I, p. 19; II, p. 105, 846; also 
Ward, The Realm of Ends, p. 185. 


of them arc also represented as marrying the daughters of men 
and thus establishing a direct contact with humanity and also 
as frequenting holy places on earth without any particular 
message to deliver. 133 Muhammad repeatedly denounced the 
Arabic idea that the angels were the daughters of the God of 
Mercy and not His servants merely, or that their function on 
earth was anything but aiding the believers and chastising 
the infidels. How exactly Gabriel communicated the Arabic 
Qur'an to Muhammad must remain problematical it is des- 
cribed as descending on his heart in the form of recitations 
out of the copy in heaven entrusted to the guardianship of 
the angels from all eternity. 134 By Christian writers Muharn- 
mad has been variously described as " an enthusiast, a fanatic, 
an impostor, a man specially inspired by the devil, or an 
epileptic subject to hysterical hallucinations." 135 .About 
his book two typical opinions would suffice. " From the 
literary point of view, the Koran has little merit. Declama- 
tion, repetition, puerility, a lack of logic and coherence strike 
the unprepared reader at every turn. It is humiliating to tbo 
human intellect to think that this mediocre literature has been 
the subject of innumerable commentaries and that millions of 
men are still wasting time in absorbing it." 136 "It is not 
only Mohammad's person in its entirety, not only his antece- 
dents and general culture, that are reflected in the religion 
thus put together and determine its special character. Be- 
yond all this, there is something in Islam nay, there is much 
that is simply arbitrary. The unforeseen and intrinsically 
incalculable plays no small part in it. The changing political 
relations, the circumstances of the prophet's life, and, alas 1 
his passions also, his vengeance and his sensual desires, leave 
their mark on the word of Allah that he preaches, the word 
which, when once it is spoken, he will lay not only upon 

133 Gen. 28.12; 32.2. 

134 See Al Bayan (Eng. Tr.) by A. M. A. Haqq Haqqani, p. 218 f , for a 
discussion of this point. 

w Faiths of the World, p. 368; see also C. T. Gorham, Ethics of the Great 
Religions (R. P. A. series), pp. 63-65. 
HSReinach, Orpheus, p. 176. 


Arabia, but upon all the world ! " 137 There can be no doubt 
that much of Christian spite is due to the rapidity with which 
Muhammadanism is spreading among the people whom the 
Church looked upon as its prospective converts and something 
is also due to an unconscious resentment against Muslim 
domination of European countries for many centuries and of 
the Holy Land down to the present times. This much is 
certain that the Old Testament, taken as a whole and not mere- 
ly in its Prophetic part, does not present a higher standard of 
reasonableness or compassion in its conception of God and 
His dealings with man than the Qur'an does, and it is the Old 
Testament that the Qur'an has primarily in mind when draw- 
ing up its code of religion and morals. It may be freely 
admitted, of course, that the method of transmitting revela- 
tions through lesser gods or angels, as adopted by the Qur'an 
and some of the Hindu religious sects, is rather crude in its 
conception, for at one stage the physical descent of a heavenly 
being, as in the doctrines of Div r ine incarnation and immediate 
presence, would have to be assumed. There is the obvious 
risk that if disbelief in divine emissaries sets in, the bond of 
connection between God and man would snap. The Qur'an, 
therefore, had to take good care to include belief in the angels 
as a part of the Muslim creed, for on their mediation and help 
rest the possibility and the truthfulness of the scriptures 
themselves, 138 and possibly also the theory of an Arabic Qur'an 
in heaven to make the communications of Gabriel intelligible 
to Muhammad. 

Is it not possible to discard altogether all these mechanical 
means of revelation and to hold the last view that God has 
neither to sojourn on earth nor to come down from Heaven 
nor to send heavenly messengers to teach the right relation be- 
tween Himself and the world or among His creatures? Can we 
not suppose, on the other hand, that He has implanted in man 
at his birth faculties that possess the power of a growing 
appreciation of His nature, attributes and functions, and 

MTKuenen, op. tit., p. 83. 
W8 Qur'an 2.172. 


enable him to move up to God? Aristotle had said that Cod 
is the unmoved mover of the world : can we not understand 
this pregnant utterance in the sense that hy the natural 
development of the faculties o[ his soul man spontaneously 
moves towards perfection? Indian thinkers have almost 
universally taught that sin and ignorance act as veils between 
God and man and that with the removal of these impediments 
the light of truth shines clear and the road of life is illumined. 
This would mean that God is always within the world in some 
fashion but that His presence and guidance are not felt by 
all alike. Subject to the limitations of finitude, however, it 
is possible to realise progressively the divine plan of things on 
condition that man bends his entire personality to the task. 
There is a twofold difficulty to be faced : firstly, the native 
endowment may not be adequate, and, secondly, all the aspects 
of the soul may not be equally exercised in the quest of 
spiritual values. We may suppose that to open the chamber 
of divine secrets there is only one key which must be possessed, 
namely, a happy combination of a sensitive soul, a com- 
passionate mind and a purified will, and that this combination 
is favoured by congenital circumstances and fostered by 
spiritual training. If prophets are born and not made, we 
must suppose thai the exact balancing of the elements of a 
spiritual life can be effected only congenitally, and that as n 
function of a rare biological constitution, just as the musical 
or the mathematical ability of a genius must always be set 
down to a fortunate biological variation. But while the foun- 
ders of religions are those fortunate few who are thus favour- 
ed by a happy constitution and to whom, therefore, the rigor- 
ous life of discipline and the optimistic life of faith come easy, 
it is possible for every man to attain a certain amount of 
success in this direction by conducting a well balanced life 
and by attempting to cultivate those principles of thought, 
emotion and conduct which are essential for putting one in 
right relation to the world of men and things. 139 We may t in 

H0 See B. Carpenter, Theism in Mediaeval India, p. 890 


fact, say with Emerson : 140 " We lie in the lap of immense 
intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs 
of its activity. When we discern justice, when we discern 
truth, we do nothing of ourselves, but allow a passage to its 
beams :" and we may suppose with William James that the 
human brain provides the place where by disciplined living 
the veil of nature can be pierced in a progressive fashion and 
spiritual truths transmitted to the mind with increasing 
clearness. 141 

It is quite conceivable that different prophets should fix 
their gaze upon different aspects of the mysteries of spiritual 
life, although to bo Founders of faiths they must all possess 
intellectual insight, abiding love and moral earnestness of a 
greater or less degree. The nature of their message is very 
often conditioned by the needs of their time and the compre- 
hension of their contemporaries. We may very well believe 
that to Buddha the spiritual message came in the form of an 
intellectual solution of the riddles of suffering, old age and 
death when at the foot of the Bo-tree he attained enlighten- 
ment. Not that he WUH not moved by the suffering of the 
innocent victims of the Vedic cult of sacrifice or the hardship 
Caused by the in flexibility of a rigid caste-organisation; but. 
tradition ascribes to him the primary enlightenment about 
the causes that lead to suffering and embodiment and an in- 
sistence upon earnest contemplation as the condition of freeing 
the mind from evils sensuality, individuality, delusion, and 
ignorance. 142 Tn a similar fashion, Christ, when he is human- 
ly conceived and not regarded as God-man, may be said to 
have received illumination about the proper affective relation 
between God and man and among men themselves, which he 
taught in his great messages ' God is Love f and * Love th> 
neighbour as thyself.' He focussed his preaching on the 
Fatherhood of (lod and the Brotherhood of Man, which had 
indeed been preached before his time but not with so much 

MO Quoted by Jauie:>, Human Immortality, p. 107. 
141 James, Human Immortality, pp. 92-5. 

i Mah&parinibb&na Suttanta, 1.9 f. See also Straiten, The Psychology of 
Religious Life. p. 197. 


insistence and method. 143 He too had his criticisms of the 
sacrificial cult and the empty formalities of faith, but his 
sacred heart turned oftener in sympathy to the publicans and 
sinners than to the intellectual solution of cosmic problems. 
To Zarathustra, again, the message from the sacred fire came 
in the form of a moral problem as to how falsehood and evil are 
to be practically tackled. The moral position of Zoroastrian- 
isrn has been indicated by one of the High Priests of the creed 
thus : " Zoroastrianism will live by its eternal verities of the 
belief in the personality of Ormazd, an abiding faith in the 
triad of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, the in- 
exorable law of righteousness, the reward and retribution in 
the life hereafter, the progress of the world towards perfection, 
and the ultimate triumph of the good over evil through the 
coming of the kingdom of Ormazd with the co-operation of 
man. ' ' 144 Not that Zarathustra did not have his severe indict- 
ment of the worship of gods (daeva) or his commendation of a 
life based on the principle of family love and social charity ; 
but the major burden of his religious theme is that, not by 
ecstasy and meditation, but by struggle and suffering must 
one redeem the world from the grip of falsehood and wicked- 
ness, and great is the reward of those who fight the battle of 
Truth and Righteousness. 145 

In spite of the great prophetic achievements of the past 
we may still legitimately suppose that as through the myster- 
ious laws of life the human mind reaches higher summits, 
the secrets of the spiritual life would be more abundantly 
revealed, provided, of course, the prophet does not quail before 
his vision or relax his effort in their pursuit. We may also 
believe that what the prophets of old saw as through a dark 
glass would shine forth in a new brilliance to their successors 
and the old revelations would become relatively modes of 

M Foundations, p. 105 f. Bee, however, Dhirendra Nath Chowdhury VedAnta 
vftglte, In Search of Jesus Christ, pp. 46-64, for a critical examination of thia claim 
of Christianity. 

Zor. Theo., pp. 370-71 
<*, p. 15. 


ignorance, the Upanisads talking even of the transcendence 
of revelation altogether in absolute consciousness.* 46 But 
there is a sense in which a later prophet may be 
said to come not to destroy but to fulfil the message 
of an earlier prophet ; he tries to make it more universal 
in its application. It is indeed true that at present 
the world is divided into conflicting religious traditions 
the Semitic and the Aryan and the Mongolian, and that 
inner growth has been mostly confined within each tradition 
separately, the only notable exception being Zoroastrianism 
which, by virtue of its geographical position, influenced the 
eschatology of post-exilic Judaism and probably borrowed at 
least one goddess from the Semites, namely, Amihita. 147 But 
now that the barriers of space and culture have practically 
broken down and no great religion not even Hinduism has 
any geographical limit and the scriptures of all religions are 
freely circulating all over the world, it is inevitable that some 
sensitive soul would arise and effect the first synthesis of rival 
traditions, would show, in tlio words of Kabir, that black 
and yellow cows give the same white milk. 148 The Sufistic 
experiment, again born in the favourable soil of Persia, 119 
proved abortive not only because of Arab bigotry but also 
because it failed to develop the social side of a positive religion, 
whereas the much smaller experiment of Sikhism succeeded in 
establishing a new faith by fusing elements of both cultures 
and discarding that religious selfishness, that intellectual 
aloofness, which is the bane of all mystic speculation. The 
rapprochement of faiths has not proceeded beyond the intellec- 
tual and social stages thus far, and the awakening of national 
and communal consciousness has temporarily accentuated 
the exclusiveness of different religious organisations. 

"Br. Ar. Up., iv. 3.22. 

MfDhalla, Zor. Tlieo., p. 137. The resemblance between Anfilute and 
Saraswat! is remarkable and deserves investigation. Bee also Dr. Modi Memorial 
Volume, p. 162. 

MB E. Carpenter, Theism in Mediaeval India, p. 459. 

u See Carpenter, op. <?'*., p. 450, and the works cited by him. The influence 
of Indian pantheistic speculations on Bufiflm is now questioned. 



The Parsi, the Jew and the Jain can only be born, while the 
Mongolian religions Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism 
are geographically isolated, non-proselytising and national. 
Hinduism, which had at no time ceased to absorb foreign 
elements, is again assuming a militant form, while Buddhism* 
is showing signs of m new awakening and establishing contact 
with the prevailing ethical, but non-devotional, temper of the 
present age. Christianity and Muhaminadanism have always 
been aggressively missionary, but the cry of Pan-Islamism 
had never been more vociferous before and the decay of faith 
in the West has only added to Christian missionary zeal in 
the East. But although the times arc not propitious for 
arnity, there is no doubt that rivalry will bring understanding 
and many a scoffer at alien faiths will remain to pray in the 
samo Church. Manners will continue to divide men as now 
and dispositions will determine the character of devotion ; but 
there will be more of good will and genuine understanding in 
the future. But only if a religions genius should arise to 
separate the essentials from the non-essentials and make pro- 
vision in his religion for the systematisation of the genuine 
inspirations of all creeds 150 and should his vision be seconded 
by the levelling up of intellectual culture, aesthetic apprecia- 
tion and moral habits in the civilised countries of the world, 
then and then only will there be a Universal Church ; all of ns 
may however in the mean time work towards that ideal in 
faith and hope, and trust to the increasing purpose of the world 
to remove progressively the veil of ignorance and sin that 
obstructs the vision of the ever present Eternal with which 
the human soul, even in its deepest degradation, nover loses 
contact. 151 

l8ee Whitehead, Religion in the Making, p. 131. 
i See Hegel, Philosophy of Religion, Vol. I, p. 0. 


We have discussed now in broad outlines the nature of 
prophetic inspiration. Whitakor, the Elizabethan divine, 
found evidence for inspiration in " (1) the majesty of the doc- 
trine itself; (2) the simplicity, purity and divinity of the style; 

(3) the antiqutiy of the books themselves (the books of MOSCP 
are more ancient than the writings of any other men); 

(4) prophetic oracles; (5) miracles; (6) the failure of enemies to 
destroy them; (7) the testimony of martyrs; and (8) the charac- 
ter of the writers, mostly illiterate and incapable of writing 
without inspiration." 1 In other words, everything connected 
with inspiration must be extraordinary the language, the 
medium, the contents. Unlike philosophy which is meant for 
the higher intellect, religion is meant for all grades of under- 
standing, and so its original language can never bo 
anything but direct and simple, whether the speaker be 
Buddha or Christ, Moses or Muhammad. The inspiration has 
primary reference to the spiritual needs of man to a proper 
understanding of the character and attributes of God and the 
right relation between man and man. As these needs are 
more or less abiding, the development of religion has always 
taken the form of transition from spasmodic attempts to as- 
certain divine wishes on individual occasions to a systematic* 
knowledge of the unalterable will of God. The more primi- 
tive the religion the more frequent are the uses of divination 
and dream, of signs and omens, to get a knowledge of God's 
mind in individual matters. At a slightly higher level, 
ecstasy takes the place of divination the individual gets into 
a state of mind relatively detached from worldly thoughts and 
emptied of those personal memories and desires that thwart 

1 Enc. Br., Vol. 8, p. 500. 


the influx of divinity into the minds of ordinary mortals. 2 
While ordinarily this ecstatic mood would be an affair of God, 
men have not desisted from facilitating His work by meeting 
Him half-way, namely, by adopting means that predispose 
one to ecstatic fits. Opium, hemp and hashish; tobacco and 
wine; dance, march, music and song; revival meetings and 
exhortations; fasting, ascetic practices and retirement into 
solitude; cabalistic rites and sexual orgies these have all been 
pressed into the service of faith to produce ecstasy. Speaking 
of the Israelites, for instance, Lods observes : 3 ' The man- 
ner in which the Israelites conceived of inspiration (possession 
by a spirit or permeation by an impersonal spiritual force), 
the manner in which they explained visions (the carrying 
away of the seer, either in or out of the body, or second sight), 
the practices employed to induce the spirit to enter the ins- 
pired person (sacrifices, incubatio, music, dancing, fasting, 
the use of intoxicants) all resemble those found among many 
" primitives." ' This is substantially true of Hinduism also, 
where similar beliefs and practices prevail down to the present 
day. In this ecstatic condition prophecies and oracular dis- 
closures of divine intentions have been made more or less un- 
der the influence of a foreign will and without the aid of the 
extraneous means adopted by the diviners. The necessity 
nd the process of miracles and magical feats are more diffi- 
cult to understand : they are probably intended to establish 
the power of the divinely inspired person to tap the fountain 
of divine energy, either to establish his own claim or to right 
manifest wrongs or to establish the truth and greatness of 
God. It is an open question whether such actions are always 
])erformed deliberately or also often " by a kind of irresistible. 
compulsion," 4 whether they operate directly on the course of 
events or indirectly through the supernatural spiritual powers 
who control them; but there is no doubt that their performance 

' For the theories of Plato, Philo, Joscphus and Athenagoras on the subject, 
BOO EKE. vii. 347. 

3 Lods, I*racl t p. 800; see also Strotton, The Psychology of Religion* Life, 
p. 108 f. 

< See Loda, op. ci*., p. 299. 



is intermittent and it is not intended to prove that the divine 
government of the world can be carried on normally by miracle 
and magic. Except when these are used in the interests of 
morality they may serve as advertisements to power; but it is 
only in exceptional cases that they would predispose the 
spectators to piety. Besides, black art has claimed, equally 
with prophetic performance, the power to control natural 
forces, and oracles have thrived in many "lands without reli- 
gious association of a very high type. 

The merit of the founders of faiths lies essentially in this 
that they have generally tried in their own way and to the ex- 
tent of their own illumination to wean men's minds away 
from the spectacular and the occasional to the abiding laws 
of truth and morality. They have attempted to leach that 
the laws of existence and conduct work without taking un- 
necessary help from accessory interference. " Assuredly in 
the heavens and the earth are signs for those who believe 
firmly; and in your own creation, and in the beasts which We 
has dispersed abroad are signs to the firm in faith : and in the 
succession of night and day, and in the supply which God 
sendeth down from the Heaven whereby after its death He 
giveth life to the earth, and in the change of the winds, are 
signs for people of discernment. Such arc the signs of God : 
with truth have wo recited them to theo." 6 To arrive at the 
conception ot Law as governing both physical and moral hap- 
penings is to set up a prominent milestone in the path of spiri- 
tual progress, and to believe that that law operates equally in 
all cases is really to free the mind from all anxiety about the 
uncertainties of divine action. When the Vedic seers were 
teaching that the first fruits of Divine fervour (Tapas) were 
Rta and Satya 6 law and truth, that this Bta even the gods 
could not transgress, that it ruled the moral as well as the 
physical realm, and that of this holy law Varuna the " all- 
enfolder " was the keeper, they were making an important 
advance upon the more primitive belief that gods could be 

6 See T/ie Quran, 46. 2-5; also Suras 16, 21, 26, 30, 31, 86, 86. 


persuaded to be partial to the worshipper by supplications mid 
sacrifices. 7 

Little, however, did the Vedic seers realise the ele- 
vation of the law was destined in the long run to dethrone the 
lawgiver. When Buddha summarily rejected the boon- 
giving capacity of the Vodic gods and set up instead the prin- 
ciple of Dependent Origination (pratitya-samutpada), accord- 
ing to which the inexorable law of causality ruled mental nnd 
moral realms, the real implication of a world ruled by law 
came into view. In the words of Mrs. Rhys Davids, 8 
" (Joing farther than the modern scientific standpoint, they 
(the Pitakas) substituted a oosmodicy for a theodicy, a natural 
moral order for the moral design of a creative deity " an 
order which was extended by the later Buddhists to inorganic, 
organic, and spiritual realms. On Indian philosophic soil thn 
fight between law and liberty, fate and fiat, destiny and deity ; 
was decided in favour of the former, and even the philosophy 
that set out to lay down the rules of interpreting Vcdic texts 
bearing upon sacrifices ended by placing Apiirva or A draft 
(fate) over (Jod Himself. As a matter of fact, the inexora- 
bility of law was pushed to such a length that in some of the 
heretical systems, familiarised to us by Buddhist and Jaina 
literatures, the progress towards perfection was supposed to be 
independent even of the moral law the orthogenetic impulse 
of the world needed no moral co-operation of man to perfect 
itself and only waited for Time to bring it to fruition. 
Against these akriyavadins (philosophers of non-action) even 
the non-theistic founders of Buddhism and Jainism had to 

f In both Veda and Avesta fita-asha is fundamentally important. In the 
Kik it covers the threefold order , cosmic, ritualistic and moral. In tho Avesta it 
runs out into tho meanings, right, truth, righteousness, holiness, all ethical in 
connotation. Veda and Avesta, then, are witnesses that the conception existed 
before the breaking up of the Indo-Iranian unity. 

A conception like fita-asha would naturally have its effect upon the idea of 
God. Scholars practically agree that Varuna equals Ahura Mazda, that is to say, 
the ethical God of the $ik is regarded as the same in origin as the ethical and 
supreme god of the Avesta. Griswold,, The Religion of the ftigveda, p. 24. (See 
also llagozin, Vedic India, p. 140 f.) 

Mrs. Hhys Davids, Buddhism, pp. 11849; see also Stcherbatsky, The Cen- 
tral Conception of Buddhism, p. 81. 


warn their followers. They were fighting for regularity in 
the realm of moral activity against the rule of divine caprice; 
they never intended to hand over the destiny of the world to 
the domination of a metaphysical principle after dethroning 
the heavenly powers. That the demand for regularity may 
become an overruling passion is evident from the fact that in 
China Lao-tse too taught : 9 " The (sage) man has for his 
law the earth : the earth has heaven for its law; heaven 1m? 
Tao for its law; and the law of Tao is its own spontaneity." 
This passage has been interpreted to mean that " Tao is the 
ultimate Reality, anterior to and higher than heaven, existing 
before time began, and precedent to the manifested God. It 
is the principle or law of nature, eternal, unchanging, and all- 
pervading, and as such must have existed prior to any personi- 
fication, which can only be regarded as a development and 
corporate expression of that principle, 11111 or that " the 
ground of existence being a perfectly indefinite spontaneity, 
a dark abysmal ono from which, for no reason assigned, the 
multiplicity of the world emanates, by the immanence or 
which the world is and is moved all this agrees with the 
ethical doctrine of abstention from self-determination and of 
sinking back on the inner ground of our being that wo may 
be as this spontaneity in us causes us to become." 11 

The problem of the law governing divine operation is 
really complementary to the problem of synergism or the 
co-operation of the free will of man and the grace of flod. 
In the former, as in the latter, the withdrawal of provision 
for the operation of grace would render all religious appeal 
practically nugatory, as there would be no valid motive for 
praise and prayer when God is unable to act in contravention 
of law. The Vedfinta of Safikara only draws the logical con 
elusion of this position when it lays down that Irivara and 
Jiva are both beings of a lower order of existence, and are 
bound to disappear together with the riso of the knowledge 

'Loggo, The Religions of China, p. 214. 

10 EHE.ix. B7. 

11 KliB. xii. 108; see aloo Review of Pliiloxophy and Religion, Vol. TIT, esp. 
p. 175 (art. Taoism and Vedanta). 


that activity does not belong to the nature of any soul in its 
free and enlightened condition and that what abides is an 
impersonal Brahman a being with nothing to legislate for or 
govern. Theists have not been slow to detect the dangers of an 
impersonalistic spiritualism and a nomistic fatalism, and, 
while fighting for a monistic faith, they have been obliged to 
keep intact the divine prerogative of freedom to intervene 
effectively in the governance of the physical and the spiritual 
world. In fact, miracle and grace arc two aspects of one and 
the same fact, namely, that God is not fettered by the law that 
He has himself imposed either on nature or on man and that 
He is as free to suspend the regular order of the one as to con- 
done the breach of the moral law by the other. When, in the 
spirit of Tsaiah, whom he quotes, Jesus preached glad tidings 
to the poor and proclaimed release to the captives, all " won- 
dered at the words of grace which proceeded out of his 
mouth;" 12 for the Jews, in spite of their claim to be the special 
favourite of Yahweh as a nation, were more accustomed to 
" the awful majesty of justice " than to "the forgiving love" 
of God. In a similar vein, the Katha and SvetaSvatara 
Upanisads, and more so the Bhagavadglta, 13 taught that God 
could Himself bestow favour out of His almndnnt grace and 
did not need to be coerced into beneficence by the magical 
efficacy of Vedic rites, performed according to the rules laid 
down in the Brahmanas and Srauia Sutras. Positive reli- 
gions have considered it far safer to hand over everything to 
the inscrutable will of God than to curtail His freedom by 
setting an unalterable and autonomous law of moral justice 
over against Him. They have agreed to sacrifice intelligible 
order to the inscrutable fiat of God lest the law should usurp 
the place of the lawgiver. God's grace manifests itself not 
only in incarnation and revelation, in providence and redemp- 
tion without merit, but also in the purification of the 'sinful 
nature of man and in the reinforcement of his struggling moral 

12 Is. 61.1-2; Luke 4.17-22; BOO also 334. 

M Bhagavadgitft, x. 10-1 ; xviii. 61-6; Katha Up., 1.2.23; Bhftgavata Pur., 
xi. 11. 32; Svet. Up., 3.20; 6.21. 


will by timely assistance. 14 Thus, while the cult of sacri&ce 
insisted on the fulfilment of certain formal conditions of ob- 
taining divine favour (except when it regarded the 
whole process as magical), the cult of grace, as for- 
mulated by the founders of religions, emphasised the 
need of fulfilling certain spiritual and moral condi- 
tions of obtaining divine aid, if not in the form of ex- 
ternal goods, at least in that of a capacity to withstand suffer- 
ing. It even went so far as to assume that in certain excep- 
tional cases divine grace could forgive and save a sinner who 
had done nothing to deserve divine compassion (thereby even 
risking the fundamental postulate of all ethical religion that 
vice can never hope to be treated in the same way as virtue), 
in order to show the greatness of God whose patience, love 
and solicitude for the human soul know no bounds and who 
sends the sun to shine as much upon the wicked as upon the 
good. If God had taken pleasure in visiting iniquity with 
suffering, would He have sent any prophetic revelation or 
warning? God is both able and willing to condone sinful 
acts, sometimes in response to penitent prayers and at other 
times freely with inscrutable motives of His own or out of 
His abundant mercy. 

This message of hope we may regard as the cardinal tenet 
of all theistic faiths preached by the prophets. The fear of 
the Lord may be the beginning of wisdom, but even the 
primitives would require something more to worship God. 15 
If the wrath of God is incapable of being turned away by 
penitence and prayer, and if the law of justice is to work 
out its relentless destiny in all cases, what motive would be 
left for approaching God in a worshipful attitude? Even 
the primitives believe that the supernatural powers can be 
prayed to in a spirit of hope (when, of course, they are not 
regarded as amenable to magical control), and no advanced 
theism has been able to dispense with the same belief. Only 
on the portals of Hell are Dante's terrible words possible : 

15 See Marrett, Faith, Hope and Chanty in Primitive Religion, Lect. U, esp 

P. e&. 


" Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." 16 Man lives by 
hope no less than by faith; he is ever conscious too of hip 
weaknesses and his many shortcomings in his dealings with 
men and tilings, even when these are judged by the relative 
standard of traditional morality or tribal custom. The 
prophet of a religion has, therefore, the twofold task of 
awakening or accentuating the sense of sin and suffering and 
at the same time of bringing a message of redemption or 
deliverance from these. 17 Whether a religion would be 
pessimistic or optimistic depends upon the emphasis it lays 
upon the first or the second aspect. James, us is well known, 
distinguished between the religion of healthymimledness and 
the religion of the sick soul the religion of hope in spiritual 
progress and immortalit}, based on a belief in the benignity 
of God, and the " hell-fire theology," based en a melancholic 
and det'eatistic attitude towards the problems of right living. 18 
But mere pessimism has never been able to constitute cither 
a religious or a philosophic message a way out has ahvay* 
been suggested, though sometimes a way that is strenuous, 
slippery and almost unending. Even atheistic faiths have 
built on hope. In Buddhism and Jainism religious suicide was 
not at all permitted to those who wished to escape from the 
troubles and responsibilities of life but only sometimes to those 
who had attained perfection and who wanted to quicken their 
exit out of the world after that happy consummation. 19 
What most religions have done is to picture a God who has 
indeed set tasks to men but who is ever willing to help them 
in correcting mistakes and is satisfied with their effort at im- 
provement even though the standard of perfection attained is 
not very high. God lends a helping hand to souls struggling to 
rise ; He breaks their fall ; He lifts them up from the ground ; 
He assists them with easy ascents and mounting ladders. 
How weak and erring is man, and how great and good ia God ! 

N Panto, The Divine Comedy- Hell, Canto ITT. 
See Mackintosh, The Pilgrimage of Faith (1931), pp. 196-206. 
James, Varieties of Religious Experience, Lectg. IV- VH. 
i ERE. xii. 24 f., 84. 


Even the original pre-theistic Buddhism had to show 
how it was possible to hope for ultimate deliverance 
through right contemplation, even though no God ever 
came to the rescue of the soul in bondage to ig- 
norance, suffering and sin. The very fact that most 
of the religions, which originally started with an austere 
philosophy of life, had to make concession to the human 
demand of easy salvation is a striking testimony to the neces- 
sity of a gospel of compassion. Hinduism with its Pauranic 
message of hope is far removed from Hinduism with its Upani- 
sadic message of self-knowledge and self-discipline. 20 Mahft- 
yiina Buddhism with its compassionate Bodhisattvas is 
essentially different from Hlnayana Buddhism with its in- 
sistence upon self-attained Nirvana. The former even proved 
readily acceptable to Chinese Confucianists and Japanese 
Shintoists whose religions lacked this type of divine help. 
The success of Christian and Muhainniadan missions *ias 
largely depended upon their easy and attractive scheme of 
salvation through prophetic mediation, against the seductive 
influences of wlr'ch the native religions of India, China and 
Japan, whenever they taught crude beliefs in petty gods or 
lofty philosophies of self-attained salvation, have mostly 
struggled in vain. Tt is only by developing a religion, com- 
parable in its pi nn of salvation with these Semitic religions, 
or else by intensifying a culture that can dispense with God- 
given deliverance, that they have managed to escape total 
extinction ; as instances in point may be cited Vaisnavism 
and Saivism in India and the cults of Amida, the god of 
boundless light, and Kwannon, the goddess of mercy, in the 
Shin sect of Japan, 21 all of which have developed on the lines 
of faith as against the cult of restraint, meditation and 
knowledge advocated by the Saipkhya and Yedanta schools 
in general of India and the Zen (Dhyftna) sect of Buddhism 
in Japan. We shall see later on that the cult of compassion 

20 E. Carpenter, Theism in Mediaeval India, pp. 102-03. 
See Streeter,,T/ic Buddha and tlie Christ, p. 82 f. ; also Kimura, A Histori- 
cal Study of the terms Iltnayana ond Malwyana and the Origin of Mahay ana 
p. 42. 


is not without its dangers the Saints in Eoman Catholicism, 
the Walls in Muhammadanism, the Gurus in Hinduism, the 
Yazatas and Fravashis in Zoroastrianism, the Mother God- 
dess in Catholicism, Vai?navism and Buddhism, not to talk 
of the Tirthankaras in Jainism and the Bodhisattvas in 
Buddhism, have all swelled the ranks of compassionate inter- 
mediaries and rendered salvation easier of achievement. 
Again, where priestly absolution has claimed to confer release 
from the piccadillos of daily life and to square up periodically 
the accounts in the Book of Life from here below, the incen- 
tives to strenuous effort are likely to be reduced to their mini- 
mal intensity. 88 Exactly for a similar reason men have sought 
to swell the credit side of their heavenly account by seeking the 
assistance of their descendants in the shape of graddhas, 
masses, worship on tablets, etc., when they are dead, and, the 
aid of their contemporaries, when alive, by forming " brother- 
hoods M83 in which each shares the merits of all the members : 
so uncertain is unaided salvation when men are regarded 
as sinful in nature, act and disposition and also as begotten 
in sinfulness. 84 When the craving for outside help is so 
great, is it any wonder that a class of people claiming to 
absolve people from sin should arise or that the doctrine of 
supererogation, according to which a surplus of merit that can 
be acquired by certain privileged persoits and placed at the 
disposal of sinners for their salv.ition, should form a 
part of the creed in some of the religions of redemp- 
tion? 25 

The founders of faiths were not insensible of the danger 
of merely purifying the conception of God. A religion that 

With the growth of the opinion that penaoe does not presuppose full con- 
trition, but only an atlritio, which the sacrament of penance itself perfects, an im- 
petus was given to the less spiritual conception, and this attained its full deve- 
lopment in the doctrine of indulgences whereby the treasures of merit .stored up 
by the faithful for the church, and at her disposal, could be held to remit the 
penalties of guilt here and in purgatory for her obedient children. Hobhouse, 
Moral* in Evolution, II, p. 148. 

Sullivan, The Externals of the Catholic Church, pp. 850-51. 

M papo'ham papakarmdham p&patma p&pasambhavafy. 

* See Hobhouse, Moral* in Evolution, II, pp. 141 f. ; also Sullivan, The Fun- 
damentals of Catholic Belief, p. 282. 


concerns itself only with the establishment of a right relation 
with God may easily take up a negative attitude towards the 
world. The intensive quest of God may swallow up all other 
interests, and life, instead of being enjoyed as a blessing, 
may simply be endured as a hateful necessity. The stern 
duties of life may be shelved altogether and devotion to God 
may sum up the entire function of spiritual existence. 
There may be an abnormal shrinkage of the ego till 
the interests of the world disappear altogether from 
view and religion becomes altogether an affair of 
man's solitariness. The mystic way of life, with its 
stages of purgation, illumination and unification, is 
calculated to draw the soul away from the passions of the 
flesh, the call of social obligation, and the demands of senses 
and imagination. Even the intellectual demands of revela- 
tion may be absent and the soul may sink into the blissful 
quiet of the Absolute Inane through stages which can be only 
imperfectly described in language, such as that employed by 
St. Theresa and the Da&ibhumi&istra. 26 All attempts to use 
God practically are totally abandoned : the soul does :. j ot ap- 
proach God to get anything out of Him but to give itself up 
wholly to Him, and not only the worldly interests of one's own 
self but even the spiritual interests of others may be totally 
abandoned. The soul begins to seek solitude, to retire from the 
haunts of men, to adopt ascetic and mortificatory practices, to 
contemplate and meditate in order to commune with God or to 
empty the mind of all individualistic contents in order to 
realise finally the nothingness of the temporal and the per- 
vasiveness of the eternal in its own bosom. 

Tt is evident that this type of preoccupation with God is 
boirfid to be antisocial; and hence no religions organisation 
can be built up on the loose sands of individual interest and 
spiritual selfishness. The unkind world with its incessant 
demands for the fulfilment of bodily needs and with its multi- 
ple emissaries of natural evil, which prowl about in the shape 

2 EKE. ii. 743f. ; ix. 08. See also Jamos, Varieties of Religious Experience, 
pp. 408-15. 


of dangerous animals, noxious vermin, germs of disease and 
seeds of decay, torments the corporeal frame of the saint 
practically as much as that of the sinner and compels him to 
live within easy reach of the helping hand of the society he 
wishes to abjure. When to mitigate some of these evils the 
lonely hermit turns a coonobite, a new system of duties 
springs up and the task of maintaining the comobium brings 
about wider contact with social groups and lesser opportuni- 
ties of solitude and ecstatic trance. But the founder of a 
faith is impelled by something deeper than the practical 
necessity of living to come into contact with society. Al- 
though his inspiration is not exclusively (and sometimes even 
primarily) a product of social forces, he still owes much to 
the level of culture which his society has attained. A Jewish 
prophet, with centuries of ethical tradition in the community 
behind him, could not fail to see more deeply into the nature 
of God and the requirements of a moral life than a snvage 
born into animistic and frtishistic traditions or the cult of 
cannibalism. Environment does not plant the prophetic seed 
in human nature, but it deeply influences its germination and 
subsequent growth. It is into a concrete social situation 
that a prophet is born, and the character of his spiritual 
progress is largely determined by the forces against which ho 
has to contend and the materials upon which he can rely. 
This is why prophetic expressions are so differently garbed 
even when close analysis reveals a fundamental kinship of 
prophetic inspirations. Mysticism, which is comparatively 
untrammelled by the necessity of conforming to social ideas 
and ideals, speaks a universal language, while revelations are- 
clogged by the conventions of the community for which they 
are originally intended. 27 Could there have been so much 
insistence by the Hebrew prophets on the greater responsi- 
bilities of Israel if Moses had net established the tradition of 
a special covenant between Israel and Yahweh? Could 
Muhammad have incorporated the pilgrimage to Mecca within 

H See Pratt, The Religious Consciousness, p. 337 f. (The last five chapters 
provide an excellent summary of Mysticism.) 


the divine revelation had he not been an Arab and had there 
not been an immemorial Arab custom in its favour? Could 
Buddha have claimed inspiration for his doctrine of PratTtya- 
samutpada had he not been brought up in the tradition of the 
law of Karma? The message for the mass, which revelation 
is ultimately destined to be, must be couched in a language 
suited to their need and understanding, while mysticism 
Assumes the proper language of the soul, the spiritual 
Esperanto which a few indeed can understand but which is 
not confined within narrow communal or geographical limits. 
As a matter of fact, the universal element of every positive 
religion lias a kind of mystic appeal to the spiritual nature of 
man when it does not appeal to his reason. That is how faiths 
can spread by intimate acceptance to newer social groups, 
To one born in the tradition the universal and the particular 
make equal appeal through the force of sheer habit ; but when 
the traditional and the local preponderate over the universal, 
a faith loses its power of appeal to the world at large. 

Now, the most universal aspect of religion must have 
reference to those ethical needs without the fulfilment of 
which society cannot hold together. Mere* gregariousness 
may bring individuals together ; but in order to cohere into 
social groups they must develop traits and tendencies and 
establish principles and practices conducive to concord. It 
has often been pointed out that even persons congregating 
together for unlawful ends or predatory purposes must have 
a code of morals delimiting one another's freedom at least du- 
ring the period of operation, although not infrequently they 
fall out during the division of the spoils. 28 Conformably to 
this principle, the rules governing the relations of the 
members of a family have been the most rigid and exact, and 
the primary prohibitions or tabus have their first reference 
to the family where natural affection frequently seconds the 
operation of the moral sense. In the patriarchal stage of 
society some of these ethical forces operate without express 
thinking : this is why people in : a tribal condition hav& such 

See Plato, The Republic, Bk. 1. 


solidarity and wKy they resent so strongly any injury to their 
fellow-members. A religious community is only an extended 
tribe where the basis of unity is not sameness of blood but 
similarity of belief the common ancestor is not the human 
father but the Father in Heaven. Sympathy goes with 
the kinship of a common faith and not with geographical 
propinquity : instructive illustrations of this are furnish- 
ed by the case of the Vratyas absorbed by Hinduism, of the 
strangers (gerim) in ancient Judaism, and of converted sla\es 
in Muhammadanism, in fact, of converts in every religion. 
Conversely, apostates and infidels arc the most hateful in the 
eyes of the faithful. 

No religion that ignores the social aspect of faith has 
nuy chance of survival. 29 All religions are ultimately tested 
by their bearing upon ethical behaviour and social concord. 
Even when under a mistaken sense of the necessities of 
religious life men have been prompted to adopt unsocial 
actions (as when human sacrifices were offered to Huitxilp- 
pochtli in the old Mexican religion, to Yahweh in Judaism, to 
Kali in Hinduism), they either pleaded their helplessness 
before an express divine revelation or gave the whole matter 
an esoteric colouring, of which the main purpose was to 
defend on higher social considerations the adoption of such 
apparently antisocial measures. All primitive religions are 
purified by culture not only in an intellectual but also in an 
ethical direction; they not only attain an increasing coherence 
of doctrines but they also establish closer bonds of active 
sympathy between man and man. Without an active 
interest in other people's welfare it is impossible to 
develop the ethical side of one's idea of God. Jus? 
as it is true that from our conception of the ethical 
nature of God follows our attitude towards our fellow-men, so 
also from our acceptance of certain fundamental ' ethical 
relations between man and man follows a development in our 
conception of the ethical nature of God. Faith and 
morality purify, or else degrade, each' other. We may 

806 Patt t Th* Religious C<m*0u>ufMM, pp. 7-12. 


for instance, that a development of ethical 
notions transformed the earlier religious code of the Jewish 
Decalogue into a code of social morality. The decay of the 
cult of sacrifice all over the world is intimately related by way 
of cause or effect or both with a purified conception of the 
nature of God to whom the offerings of the heart are supposed 
to be more acceptable than the gifts of material objects, es- 
pecially when the latter involve cruelty to men or animals. 
As religious thought progresses, it has not only to bind man 
to God but also man to man; anything that has a tendency to 
divide men or set up one class against another can have no 
abiding place in a tmly religious organisation . A satisfactory 
modus Vivendi of the different classes and interests within the 
religious group must be evolved and a direct contact between 
individuals, and not merely between groups, must be estab- 
lished. In religion, no less than in politics, the famous dic- 
tum of Sir Henry Maine holds true, namely, that " the move- 
ment in the progressive societies has hitherto been the move- 
ment from status to contract, ' >3 not only in the sense that each 
individual has been treated as an end in himself, and not 
merely as a member of a group, but also in the sense that 
individuals have felt that in addition to their duties as mem- 
bers of a class they have direc? obligations in their individual 
capacity, or, in other words, the voice of conscience supple- 
ments, and sometimes supplants, the voice of the tribe. 

But just as danger lurks in mere devotion, so also there 
is risk in mere morality. In its eagerness to amend the in- 
justice of centuries religion may be tempted to reduce itself 
to a mere device for social unification and social good, neglect- 
ing or minimising the devotional side of man's life and aban- 
doning the attempt to understand the operation of spirituality 
in nature and history. It does not unoften happen that after 
capitalism and aristocracy have ground down the labouring 
classes for centuries, there comes a deification of the prole- 
tariat in sensitive minds, painfully affected by the miseries 
and disabilities of the downtrodden and the depressed. A 

30 Maine, Ancient Law (1891), p. 114. 



Voltaire or a Eousseau, a Marx or a Lenin, a Vivek&nanda or 
a Gandhi, may rouse a nation's conscience to the degrading 
conditions under which the suppressed and the submerged 
classes live. A religion that does not provide for adequate 
consideration towards the needy and the oppressed then for- 
feits its right to exist, judged by the test of social benefit. A 
cult of social service or a religion of humanity springs up, and 
religion becomes identified with the establishment of right 
relations with sentient existence, untrammelled by transcen- 
dental preoccupations. To indicate this attitude let 
us quote two authors. " Religion," says Eabindra- 
nath Tagore, 31 Cl inevitably concentrates itself on hu- 
manity, which illumines our reason, inspires our wis- 
dom, stimulates our love, claims our intelligent service. '* 
According to Benjamin Kidd, 32 ' ' a religion is a form of be- 
lief, providing an ultra-rational sanction for that large class of 
conduct in the individual where his interests and the interests 
of the social organism are antagonistic, and by which ,the 
former are rendered subordinate to the latter in the general 
interests of the evolution which the race is undergoing/' 
We may refer to a few historical instances to test the adequacy 
of this moralistic standpoint of faith. 33 

The first case is furnished by Buddhism. In opposition 
to the sacrificial Vedic cult, which legalised cruelty and stabi- 
lised caste, Buddha minimised the importance of the Vedic 
gods in spiritual matters and discountenanced all speculations 
about the future state of the soul; and to reinforce his teach- 
ings he preached that the soul was only a transient aggrega- 
tion of five factors form, sensation, perception, predisposi- 
tion and consciousness which was dissolved at death. But 
he preached at the same time the inviolability of moral justice 
and the necessity of spiritual progress towards perfection in 
its intellectual and moral aspects. He resisted in his own 
person the insidious advances of Mara the tempter and his 

UR. Tagore, The Religion of Man, p. 114. See Pringle-Pattison, The Idea 
of God, Lects. VH and Vm. 

a B. Kidjd, SocM Evolution (1902), pp. 105-06. 

* Bee the present writer's art, Morality or Religion? in Dacca Univenitj 
Journal, 1985. 


three daughters, Desire, Discontent and Lust; and he showed 
by the failure of the severe ascetic practices of his early 
career that, no less than enjoyment, mortification of the flesh 
was not the way to illumination and salvation. In the great 
sermon at the Deer-park of Benares (Sarnath) he advocated 
the rule of the Golden Mean, now associated in the West with 
the name of Aristotle, and taught that the primary object of 
religion was to find out the means of putting a stop to the 
ignorance that caused embodiment and suffering, and that the 
true means of Nirvana or salvation was not the path of wor- 
ship but the path of illumination and ethical will. He called 
it tho Noble Eightfold Path, which may be described in 
the words of Prof. G. F. Moore as follows: 34 "The first 
step in this path is right belief; that is, belief in the four 
fundamental principles as enunciated by Buddha; then follow 
right resolution, the resolve to renounce all sensual pleasures, 
to have malice towards none, and to harm no living creature; 
right speech, abstaining from backbiting, harsh language, 
falsehood, and frivolous talk; right conduct, not destroying 
life, not taking what is not given one, not being guilty of un- 
chastity; right means of subsistence, giving up a wrong oc- 
cupation and getting one's livelihood in a proper way; right 
effort, the strenuous endeavour to overcome all faults and evil 
qualities, to attain, preserve, and cultivate all good qualities. 
These six paths are ways of moral self -discipline, and might 
be comprehended under one head. The next, right reflection, 
might be called the intellectual discipline, a higher ascesis by 
which man rids himself of lust and grief. The highest stage 
is the mystical discipline, right absorption or concentration, 
a series of trances through which man rises to the bliss which 
is as far beyond happiness as beyond misery, reaches the 
intuition of higher and higher ranges of truth, and passes 
into ecstasies that lie beyond consciousness." The last step 
at any rate would refer in most other religions to the realisa- 
tion of God, but Buddha meant by it nothing but the successive 

3* See G. F. Moore, History of Religions, I, p. 295; Yamakatoi Sogen, Sys- 
tems of Buddhistic Though*, p. 160 f.} Warren, Buddhism in Translations, 
pp. 873-74. 


stages through which the mind gets rid of its contents till it 
is able to reduce itself to that nothingness (Sunya) which is 
its proper nature. It appears also that, of the forty subjects 
of meditation which are prescribed for training the mind in 
its task of self-emptying, reflection on the gods (but not in 
the sense of reliance upon them) is only one. 35 

Mrs. Rhys Davids has drawn attention 36 to a significant 
passage in the Majjhima-Nikaya (i, 134) in which Buddha 
compares morality to a raft meant to be used ' ' as something 
to escape by, but not to be clung fast to; M but she takes care 
to point out also that in Buddhism " there is no other certain 
sanction of goodness beyond the driving force of pain waiting 
on immoral living, and the pleasures rewarding moral living, 
now or in the long run/' 57 and that " for the thoughtful 
Buddhist, the Kamma-niyama will have furnished as press- 
ing a motive for moral conduct as if he had held that an 
omniscient lawgiver watched and rewarded his acts." 38 
The noble eightfold path, the five (or ten) 4llas (namely, 
to abstain from taking life, not to take what is not given, 
sexual purity, to abstain from lying, abusive, slanderous or 
idle speech, to abstain from intoxicating drink) and the six 
paramitas or virtues of perfection (namely, Charity, Morality, 
Humility, Strenuosity, Contemplation and Spiritual En- 
lightenment) sum up, with some minor overlappings, the main 
tenets of the Buddhistic faith 39 and provide a striking contrast 
to the Jewish Decalogue with its primary emphasis upon a 
right knowledge of God. Even the Indian language of reli- 
gion was used in Buddhism in a moralistic sense. Thus 
BmhmaviMrabhavana, which would ordinarily mean thoughts 
conducive to or connected with enjoyment of Brahman, is 
used in Buddhism synonymously with the sublime moods 
which include love, pity, sympathising joy and equanimity 
(vwitri, Ttaruna, mudita, upeksa) and which have no religious 

tt Warren, op. eft., p. 292. 

36 Mrs. Khys Davids, Buddhism, p. 155. 

Ibid., p. 1SU. 

id., p. 126. 

fU, p. 154 (also Yatoakami Sogen, op. cit., p. 806). 


significance but simply indicate certain attitudes of mind to- 
wards one's fellow-men. 40 

It is not our purpose just now to discuss why Northern 
Buddhism could not keep up the strictly ethical attitude to- 
wards the world, preached by Buddha; what we wish to em- 
phasise here is that revelation in the case of Buddha took the 
form of an insight into the necessity of a strenuous moral life 
without reference to God and Immortality (which form two 
out of the three indispensable presuppositions of morality nc- 
oording to Kant) with a view to stopping those conditions of 
suffering which bring about the germination of Karmic seeds 
in the shape of repeated embodiments. The mystic craving 
was apparently satisfied by the stages of contemplation, to be 
found strewn all over the Pitakas, and these could be practised 
only by those who had satisfied the conditions of a strict moral 
life; but there is no suggestion that they could bring about a 
union with Brahman or Igvara or that the moral law required 
any lawgiver to establish its claim to recognition. Original 
Buddhism is therefore atheistic in a double sense in the 
Indian sense of denying the authority of the Vedas and in the 
Western sense of refusing to discuss the necessity and the 
nature of God, and yet millions of lives have been ennobled by 
its message of morality and meditation. It laid down ela- 
borate rules about social, personal and family obligations and 
yet kept intriguingly silent over those theological questions 
which form the major occupation of theistic creeds. 

In its emphasis upon the moral aspect of religious life 
Buddhism stands almost unique among older creeds. Spas- 
modic attempts to dispense with the necessity of theological 
assumptions and anxious solicitation of the favour of gods are 
not indeed unknown in philosophy and ethics Epicurus, for 
instance, preached ataraxy or impassiveness of the sages and 
the indifference of the gods, and this is also the creed of many 
thinkers who have in recent times attempted to combine 
practical morality with theoretical agnosticism and found the 
inspiration of their lives in some cult, patterned after Comtek 

*Mrs. Rhys Davids, Buddhism, p. 218; also M. N. Dutt, Buddha, p. 106 f. 


Religion of Humanity, with ' Deed, not Creed ' as its motto. 
The Ethical Movement, 41 inaugurated in the wake of Secula- 
rism, is likely to gather momentum, as years roll on, if the 
existing positive religions insist upon the inviolability of their 
dogmas and their crude cosmological speculations. But as 
yet no purely* ethical speculation has solaced so many souls, 
not always well educated, as Buddhism has done; and, if 
secularism were to spread further, no other religion is likely to 
make a stronger appeal to thoughtful men with an ethical dis- 
position than the message of the Enlightened One, subject to 
such local modification about its speculative part (e.g., the 
doctrine of Karma) as may be found necessary. 

Two other prophets figure large in the religious field, 
whose primary concern was also the purification of human 
lives. Mahavlra, the contemporary of Buddha, who probably 
reformed the religion of ParSvanatha, did not altogether 
abolish the idea of gods; but, according to Jainism, 
these constituted one of the four forms in which finite 
souls (jwas) could embody themselves and, in fact, 
the same term devaid served to indicate both gods and 
demons. 42 The attitude towards a supreme God who helps 
mankind is summed up in the sentence, " Man! Thou art 
thine own friend; why wishest thou for a friend beyond 
thyself?" 43 The Siddhas, the emancipated ones, take no in- 
terest in mundane affairs and receive no prayers or offerings; 
the Tirtha&karas are adored for their piety, their perfection, 
and their compassionate message of salvation, but not in ex- 
pectation of any boons. 44 The ideal of purity, perfection, 
freedom and blessedness is God there is not any personal 
being, possessing these qualities, whom men must worship 
for salvation. Here, for instance, is a clear statement of the 
creed. 45 " The Jains do believe in a God after their own way 
of thinking a belief which is in and through saturated with 

EBB. v. 412. 

tf Mrs. Sinclair Stevenson, The Keaft of Jainism, p. 97. 

/bid., p. 128. 

"Ibid., p. 191; Nahar and Ghosh, Outlines oj Jainism, p. 364. 

Nahar and Ghosh, op. eft., p. 260. 


all the vigour and strength of life. It does not make us de- 
pendent on any Almighty Euler for our being and beatitude 
here or hereinafter. It does not cast us into the mould of 
those weaklings who love to creep with a quivering prayer on 
their lips to the silent doors of the Deity; nor of those who 
crawl, beating breast at every step before his fictitious feet or 
figure to adore. Bather it makes us fed that we are inde- 
pendent autonomous individuals who can carve out paths for 
ourselves here and hereinafter both for enjoyment of pleasures 
and emancipation of our souls by our own will and exertion." 
As a matter of fact, it is openly believed that only n*en can 
attain salvation by accepting the religion of Mahavira and 
that even the gods have to be reborn as men to attain self- 
knowledge and emancipation. 46 

These two heterodox religions of India are instructive in 
three respects. They are, firstly, the earliest experiments at 
a systematic course of personal purity and social morality 
without any assumption of a moral law-giver. They are, 
secondly, systems of morals that resisted all tendencies to- 
wards materialistic and fatalistic degenerations and actively 
combated all contemporary creeds that denied the moral res- 
ponsibility of man or reduced him to a mere concourse of 
atoms. These two systems succeeded in establishing morality 
without religion because they practically substituted for the 
impersonal Upanisadic Brahman an eternal moral order, the 
authority of which was never questioned; and, while disso- 
ciating themselves from all speculations about mystic union 
with the Absolute, they retained and reinforced the Brahmanic 
ascetic organisation with its rules of discipline, its cult of self- 
knowledge, and its objective of individual liberation to be 
attained by personal endeavour. The way for this was pre- 
pared by the decline in importance of Varuna, the Vedic moral 
god, the development of the conception of Brahman, an im- 
personal spiritual principle, at the cost of the plurality of 
more or less personal gods, the decay of sacrifices all through 
the periods of the Aranyakas and the Upanisads, the increase 

*t Mrs. Sinclair Stevenson, op. cit. t p. 268. 


in idealistic tendencies due to the developing practice of self- 
analysis, and an intensification of the ascetic ideal of life to 
such an extent that even atheists renounced the world and 
wandered about to preach their message. The third point is 
instructive for a different reason, namely, that ultimately 
both partially succumbed to theistic temptations and satisfied 
the religious craving by practically deifying the prophets and 
worshipping them on this side idolatry, thus establishing the 
demand made by religion that there are certain needs of the 
human heart which religious devotion and feeling of trust in 
a higher power can alone satisfy. Even tough minds have to 
fight hard against theistic failings; no wonder, therefore, that 
weaker souls should succumb to the blandishments of faith or 
live in high philosophy and crude superstition by turns. 

This inadequacy of the merely moral can be exemplified 
also by reference to another religious reformer. K'ung-foo- 
tszo (Confucius), the Chinese sage who was ultimately 
accorded divine honours, was & lover of the ancients and 
professed to be a transmitter, and not a creator, of the religion 
which now goes by his name. This religion admitted the 
reality of a Supreme Power which was sometimes described 
in personal terms as Ti or Shang Ti (Supreme Kuler) and 
sometimes impersonally, or less personally, as T'ien 
(Heaven). 47 It is to Shang Ti that the Chinese Emperor 
offered sacrifices on behalf of the nation during the winter 
solstice. No one else had a right to offer sacrifices to Shang 
Ti, although a deputy of the Emperor could officiate at the 
worship of Hu-t'u (Empress Earth) at the summer solstice. 
The people at large could, however, worship T'ien, the im- 
personal form of the Supreme Power, 48 and they did not feel 
the need of Shang T! on account of a variety of reasons. 
Firstly, all the principal qualities of Shang Ti were 
ascribed to T'ien also and only insignificant differ- 
ences existed between the two, both standing for " a Power 

Soothill, The Three Religions of China, p. 58, 116, 110 f. ; Legge, The Reli- 
gions of China, p. 10. 

Soothill, op. cit., p. 199. 


above, great, beneficent, and just, who rewards virtue 
and punishes vice, and who can be approached in prayer." 49 
Secondly, the stiff formality of the Imperial sacrifice tended 
to discourage all personal relationship with God and to lead 
men to imagine Him as a sovereign ruler before whom the 
only appropriate feeling was awful reverence ; the people at 
large, on the other hand, invested T'ien with qualities more 
favourable to personal relationship 50 in fact, the people of 
the North actually personified T'ien under the title of Lao 
T'ien Yeh (His Honour Heaven or the Honoured Progenitor 
Heaven) and the ancient script represented it by a human 
figure. 61 Lastly, the Imperial cult recognised the existence 
of lower deities (sheri) and spirits of departed ancestors, and 
it is these, especially the latter, that the people at large 
generally worshipped. 

It appears, therefore, that at first sight Confucius may 
well be reckoned as a reformer who laid equal emphasis on 
devotion and duty. But a closer examination shows that his 
support of the national religion was dictated more by pru- 
dence and patriotism than by piety. Religion was relegated 
mostly to the State, and the Emperor, as the son of Heaven, 
was the pontifex maximits of the nation. Confucius purified 
religion in two ways : firstly, he discouraged all idolatry so 
that the sacrifice to Shaiig Ti was offered under the open sky 
without the help of any image ; and secondly, the lower spirits 
were mostly worshipped on tablets with the names of the 
gods or ancestors inscribed thereon. 62 He even forbade the 
indiscriminate worship of spirits with a view to gain, and 
limited the popular worship to sacrifice to one's own ances- 
tors. It does not appear, however, that his cold Mongolian 
temper was very prone to religious rapture. In his scheme 
of faith sages, rulers and ancestors could vie with the deified 
powers of nature, local divinities and presiding spirits of 

ft Sootbill, op. eft., p. 127. 
50/6t<*., p. 125. 
51 Ibid., p. 122. 
p. 181. 



professions, for the homage of men 63 a prescription which 
later on led to his own rank being at first fixed in the second 
grade of worship and subsequently (in 1907) equated with 
that of Shang Ti himself. 64 " He himself avoided speaking 
on four subjects : extraordinary things ; feats of strength ; 
rebellious disorder; and spirits." 55 He was not without his 
doubts about the sacrifice to departed spirits. He is credited 
with the sayings, " While you are not able to serve men 
(alive), how can you serve their spirits? " and ic While you 
do not know life, how can you know about death? " The 
same tendency to avoid topics not having a direct bearing 
upon life, as is found in Buddha, is present in Confucius also. 
He refused to be drawn into discussions about the nature of 
the soul and the laws of Heaven, even though he laid down 
that the perfection of human nature, bestowed by Heaven, 
could be achieved by proper instruction about the right way 
and though he accepted the continued existence of the soul 
by providing for the worship of ancestors. 66 The word 
' prayer,' including its synonyms, occurs only about 
half a dozen times in his writings and only in 
the sense of an invocation for temporal blessings and 
not in the sense of ' adoration, communion with 
God, or entreaty for spiritual exaltation and dfevelop- 
ment,' 67 and no definite meaning can be made of his 
cryptic saying, " My prayer has been for long." It is not 
improbable that his other cryptic saying, ' He who sins 
against Heaven has nowhere left for prayer,' 58 indicates that 
he had an abiding faith in the validity of the eternal laws of 
morality, of which Heaven was more the symbol than the 

Legge points out that " even though the presidency of those objects may 
be ignorantly and superstitiously assigned to different spiritual Beings, the prayers 
to them show that the worship of them is still a service of God/ 1 Religious 
Systems of the World, p. 69. 

M Boothill, op. tit., p. 37. 

Analects VH, XX; see Legge, The Religions of China, pp. 117-18; also 
Soothill, op. ott., p. 172. 

w Soothill, op. cit. t p. 169, 170, 176; Legge, op. ctt., p. 112. 

w Soothill, op. cit. t pp. 188-39; Religious Systems of the World, p. 68. 

68 Soothill, op. tit., p. 109. 

fllS IDEAL Of* A GOOD LIFE! 115 

founder, and that, according to him, by transgressing 
these laws of propriety men forfeited the right and 
chance of temporal benefit. But for his anxiety to 
conform to immemorial tradition, Confucius would 
have enunciated more unequivocally the autonomous 
working of the moral law earlier than any other religious 
teacher whose name has come down to us. His main endea- 
vour was not to make men devotional but to make them 
moral. 59 This explains why he took such particular care to 
enunciate the Doctrine of the Mean, according to which 
harmony rules not only the mind of the wise but also the 
world, and the Golden Eule, according to which we are en- 
joined not to do unto others what we would not like to be done 
to ourselves. 

Quite in keeping with this moral tendency, we find, 
Confucius uses in his writings the impersonal form T'ien 
(Heaven) more frequently than the personal form Ti (al- 
though not in a greatly different sense) 60 and extols the 
knowledge that makes the mind sincere and brings about 
ultimately a rectified heart, a decorous conduct, a well-regu- 
lated family and a well-ordered State in succession. Not 
only here do we miss any hankering after transcendental 
speculations in the interests of rational thinking or purer 
faith, but also in his enunciation of the duties of men and 
the virtues to be practised we search in vain for any well- 
defined duties o devotion. Good life in Confucianism is 
almost synonymous with the maintenance of the five social 
relations of husband and wife, father and son, sovereign and 
subject, elder and younger brother, friend and friend the 
first four between superiors and subordinates and the fast one 
between equals. 61 In addition to these Five Human Relation- 
ships, there are also Five Constants or fundamentals of virtue, 
namely, kindness, justice, reverence, wisdom and good faith, 

Legge, however, remarks : " The idea of Heaven or God as man's 
Maker and Governor was fundamental to the teachings of Confucius; and on this 
account I contend that those who sec in him a moral teacher do not understand 
him, "Religious Systems of the World, p. 71. 

* Legge, op. eft., p. 189. 

Soothill, op. t., p. 190. 


which also are mainly secular in character. As Parker 
observes, " Self-control, modesty, forbearance, patience, 
kindliness, orderliness, absence of effusiveness and passion, 
studiousncss, industry, mildness, dutifulness, neighbourli- 
ness, fidelity, uprightness, moderation, politeness, cere- 
moniousness these were the qualities which Confucius con- 
sistently practised and taught." 62 These constituted, accord- 
ing to him, the way of perfection. That the message of 
morality succeeded so well is due to the fact that Confucius 
was too wise and politic to disturb the ancient religious prac- 
tices of the nation even though he was himself sceptical about 
their efficacy : what he did positively was to teach men to 
have faith in themselves and in their status and, instead of 
pessimistically preparing for death, to get rid of the ills of 
life, to strive for the realisation and perfection of the innate 
goodness of their own nature and " to strengthen and perpe- 
tuate the things that are seen and temporal." 63 Inasmuch as 
there is a moral order in the world, the strenuous life of good- 
ness is bound to have its reward just as the easy life of evil 
is sure to meet its doom ; and this recompense is not deferred 
to a realm beyond, about the existence of which there may be 
some doubt, but is accomplished here below according to the 
eternal laws of righteousness. In this respect an easy com- 
parison of Confucianism with pre-exilic Judaism is possible, 
with this difference, however, that the Hebrews never for a 
moment believed that the moral law could operate without 
the will of Yahweh. The easy acceptance of Buddhism and 
the concurrent vogue of Taoism in Confucian China are due 
to the fact that these two religions also accepted the validity 
of the moral law and the need of social harmony, self-know- 
ledge and self-discipline. They supplied at the same time 
that element of mysticism and devotion to China which 
Confucianism lacked because of its intense preoccupation with 
the practical duties of social life and its apathy towards the 

Cannay, An Encyclopedia of Hetigion, art. Confucianism (p. 116), 
quoting Porker, Studies in Chinese Religion, 
* Faiths of the World, p. 88. 


unseen universe. But the Buddhism that China accepted 
had to shed its pessimism and its doctrine of transmigration. 
In place of Nirvana were preached the Mahayanic message of 
the Western Paradise of Amitabha as the reward of goodness 
and the cult of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas 64 just those 
elements about which popular mind was so inquisitive and 
Confucius was so silent. Even when Imperial persecution 
dissolved the Buddhistic monasteries and nunneries, the 
people continued their devotion in household chapels, Taoisfc 
shrines and Buddhist temples, again bearing testimony to the 
inevitable doom of mere morality in a nation or a big com- 
munity where large numbers cannot be expected to find in 
the laws of morality their own justification or a sufficient 
amount of emotional satisfaction. 

So long HB morality is a mere tribal custom men follow 
it blindly without questioning ; but once it is made the subject 
of speculation, it is bound to be viewed cither hetcronomously 
as drawing its value and validity from divine dispensation, 
or autonomously as the law of nature which spontaneously 
brings reward to merit and suffering to demerit. Positive 
religions have never treated morality as ego-altruistic conduct, 
with no bearing upon the destiny of the soul, or as a convention 
that can be altered by general consent. There has been 
enough of narrowness in social outlook, and even elementary 
justice has been denied to men of alien faiths; but within 
each religious community the claims of morality have been 
paramount and many of the injustices to other faiths have 
been done under the honest belief that interests of social 
morality demanded them. This has happened as much in 
Confucianism, where no divine favour is sought to be gained 
by the oppression of other creeds, as in Judaism and Muham- 
madanism, where a motive of pleasing God has very often 
been present. In fact, the greater is the conviction that their 
own religion is the indispensable condition of salvation the 

traces the conceptions of Kwan-yin and Amita Buddha to Persian 
sources (see his Buddhism as it exists in China). See Enlightened Non-Zorots- 
Mans on Maxd&yasnism, the Excellent fielijpen, p. 55. 


greater is the persecution to which zealots subject aliens and 
apostates not only in anxious solicitude for wayward and 
ignorant souls but in holy zeal for destroying all seeds of cor- 

Nowhere else is the distinction between personal religion 
alid institutional religion more clearly brought out than in 
the insistent emphasis on social morality which every prophet 
has been obliged to lay in his revelations. In societies \vhere 
an adjustment of social dealings has become automatic on a 
fairiy high moral level or where an independent ethical 
literature of didactic or hortatory character has developed 
and spread in the community, there is less need of 
direct moral teaching in the scriptures. It must never be 
supposed that man owes his morality to prophetic revelation 
and that but for the scriptures men would have roamed njwrt 
and killed or injured one another at sight. Gregariousness, 
innate sympathy, imitation and suggestion all do their work 
far below the religious and even the conscious level to 
bring men together and to establish a modus Vivendi among 
social components. What Kev. George Matheson wrote about 
Christianity borrowing the Golden Bule from Confucianism is 
true of moral precepts in general. Says he, 65 '' That Con- 
fucius is the author of this precept is undisputed, and there- 
fore it is indisputable that Christianity has incorporated an 
article of Chinese morality. It has appeared to some as if 
this were to the disparagement of Christianity as if tllfe 
originality of its Divine Founder were impaired by consent- 
ing to borrow a precept from a heathen source. But in what 
sense does Christianity set up the claim to moral originality? 
When we speak of the religion of Christ as having introduced 
into the world a purer life and a surer guide to conduct, what 
do we mean? Do we intend to suggest that Christianity has 
for the first time revealed to the world the existence of a set 
of self-sacrificing precepts that here for the first time man 
has learned that he ought to be meek, merciful, humble, 
forgiving, sorrowful for sin, peaceable, and pure in heart? 

Faiths of ike W*M, pp. 


The proof of such a statement would destroy Christianity 
itself, for an absolutely original code of precepts would be 
equivalent to a foreign language. The glory of Christian 
morality is that it is not original that its words appeal to 
something which already exists within the human heart, 
and on that account have a meaning to the human ear : no 
new revelation can be made except through the medium of 
an old one. When we attribute originality to the ethics of 
the Gospel, we do so on the ground, not that it has given new 
precepts, but that it has given us a new impulse to obey the 
moral instincts of the soul." A religious reformation can 
only intensify, reinforce, or widen the range of, moral opera- 
tion; but it does not create a morality the seeds of which are 
not already latent in the human heart and do not sprout forth 
in social dealings. That prophets, separated from one another 
by wide distances of time, space and culture, should inculcate 
practically the same moral principles, albeit with different 
Intensities of connotation and extensities of denotation, and 
that, in spite or crcdal dissimilarities, advanced faiths should 
approximate one another in their moral contents show that 
the needs of practice are more constant than the needs of 
devotion and speculation possibly because the former over- 
flow the bounds of a single individuality and refer to those 
abiding factors of social existence without which not only the 
race of mfti but even animal communities would perish. 
This relative constancy of moral ideas led Buckle to write, 
" There is, unquestionably, nothing to be found in the world 
which has undergone so little change as those great dogmas 
of which moral systems are composed. ... If we contrast 
this stationary aspect of moral truths with the progressive 
aspect of intellectual truths, the difference is indeed start- 

We hasten to add, however, 'that, on account of the 
intimate connection among the faculties of the mind, morality 
cannot fail to be affected by limited vision or circumscribed 

W Buckle, History of Civilisation in England (Vol. I, p. 180 f.), quoted in 
Westorroarck, Ethical Relativity, p. 915. 


sympathy. There arc certain principles of social behaviour 
and social adjustment which no religion can ignore without 
ceasing to be a message to mankind. In days of warped 
judgment, corrupt authority and blind faith men have 
hearkened to many immoral and antisocial messages, adopted 
many uncharitable and unsocial attitudes towards their 
fellow-men, and have even desecrated faith by wanton cruelty 
and irrational hostility ; but, with the growth of culture and 
the return of social sanity, such practices have always dis- 
appeared and thereby exposed their own transitory character. 
True, faiths have also fallen from their pristine greatness 
in many lands; but the wheel of time has crushed those 
degenerate faiths except when it succeeded in raising them 
to noble heights again with the help of an ethical lever and en- 
dowing them with a fresh lease of useful longevity. Where 
are those religious practices and burial customs that at one 
time demanded human victims all over the world? Sacrificial 
cruelty even to lower animals is fast disappearing from the 
face of the earth. No more inquisition, auto-da-fe, putting 
an entire population to the sword because religion of a parti- 
cular type is not acceptable to the weak and oppressed party. 
The conscience of the world is deeply stirred by any rare 
religious persecution that takes place anywhere nowadays. 
Even when scriptures have been disfigured by atrocious reve- 
lations, the developing conscience of man has put secular 
ban on the carrying out of these religious prescriptions, and 
this has been necessary especially in those religions where 
the scope for further revelation has been denied and exegesis 
has not been authorised to allegorise away or palliate Ihe 
cruel injunctions. 

Here then is an obvious advantage for those religions 
which have left scope for future improvements. While from 
one point of view the absence of finality invests their 
revelations with an ethical and spiritual relativity, from 
another point of view there is provision in them for a 
never-ending progression. Judaism, for instance, held fast to 
Moses as the original prophet but did not put down with an 
iron hand the presumptions of those who felt an irresistible 


call to preach spiritual messages of a non-Mosaic type. We 
shall not refer to the tampering of the Mosaic revelations 
themselves 67 in order to bring them into line with the deve- 
loped ethical and spiritual conceptions of a later time, for 
that too was done more than once. But, apart from that, 
the genuineness of prophetic revelations of later times was 
never questioned by the Hebrews ; and when the time came 
to close the canonical literature, the entire process of the 
development of the religion on the ethical side was embodied 
in the scripture. As a matter of fact, even post-canonical 
formulae of faith were also accepted by the community as 
expressing more adequately the later spiritual and ethical 
conceptions of the race though now their inspirational 
character could not be recognised. 68 

There are certain peculiarities about the Judaic revela- 
tion which are well worth noticing. That God could make 
His existence, character and intention known to mankind 
is a belief that is common to all theistic faiths. The Hebrews 
went further and taught that God could personally assume 
the direction of individual and national affairs and that in 
His choice of a favoured nation He was not under any extra- 
neous obligation. If God chose to make a covenant with the 
Jews, it was not because they were more moral than the rest 
of the ancient world but because it was His will and intention 
to raise the Jewish nation in power and spirituality and to 
use it as the tool of His ethical management of the world. 69 
He did not make their virtue automatic or their power irre- 
sistible ; but the nation never lost faith in divine providence 
or in the divine dispensation that it was to be the torch- 
bearer of the unity and ethicality of God. The Hebrew 
prophets may very well be compared with the chorus in a 
Greek tragedy : they pass an ethical comment on national 

w See Pringle-Pattison, Studies in the Philosophy of Religion, p. 123. For 
similar tampering with texts in the Prophets, eee footnotes on p. 89 f. in R. H. 
Charles, A Critical HGstory of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel^ in Judaism^ 
and in Christianity (Eschatology, Hebrew, Jewish and Christian). 

w E.g., the Thirteen Principles of Faith as drawn up by Moses Maimonides 
(see ERE. iv. 346; viii. 841). 

Gen. 22.18. 


misfortunes and emphasise the moral insufficiency of the race 
for the continuance of divine favour and protection. Their 
running commentaries on national events and undertakings 
and on individual actions and iniquities provide the second 
form of divine revelation to Israel : God not only deals with 
the race but He also speaks to the prophets. Sometimes it 
seems as if a combination of the two revelations is necessary 
to understand aright the nature of God. The race knows 
Yahweh as the Lord of Hosts, a majestic power pleased by 
strict adherence to His covenant and angered by a violation 
either of His sanctity or of His commandments, yet, withal, 
incapable of forsaking His chosen race in its calamities or 
allowing it to seek the asylum of other gods. The prophets, 
on the other hand, reveal Yahweh as a strictly ethical God 
who would not hesitate in the least to use foreign nations as 
the avenging rods of sinning Israel or to inflict banishment 
from native soil as a punishment for her iniquity, but who is at 
the same time merciful and readily forgiving. Israel must imi- 
tate Yahweh's holiness and mercy and think of Him more in 
terms of personal relationship than of national help and 
guidance, approach Him more with prayerful mind and clean 
hands than with costly sacrifices and frequent importunities. 
The major elements of the Jewish conception of the revealed 
God are to be found in the Exodus description: 70 " The 
Lord, the Lord, a God full of compassion and gracious, slow 
to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth ; keeping mercy 
for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and pin : 
and that will by no means clear the guilty ; visiting the 
iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the 
children's children, upon the third and upon the fourth 
generation." We have already traced the development of 
Hebrew thought through the Prophets and indicated in what 
ways it became concerned more with individual responsi- 
bility than with tribal or ' familial f solidarity in sin and 
suffering. Otto has shown how the Jewish idea of the Holy 
underwent transformation in an ethical direction in course of 

NExod. 84.6!. 


time and the moral aspect grew at the expense of the dyna- 
mical. 71 Herein we may trace, in fact, the general evolution 
of man's consciousness of the supernatural, which starts with 
a belief in mysterious powers controlling operations that are 
beyond the capacity of man but capable of being enlisted 
in one's favour and against one's enemies by suitable incan- 
tations and propitiatory sacrifices. It is only late that men 
realise that these powers are on the side of the good alone and 
that it is goodness that is destined to survive in the long run. 
But even then, in times of war, men are apt to forget the 
lessons of civilisation and to hold intercession services in the 
fond belief that God could thereby be deflected from His moral 
purpose in dealing even-handed justice between the combatant 
parties, to forget, that is, that the object of prayer is not to 
influence God's will but to help man to become perfect; 72 
and the effect is that, as Bertram! Russell puts it, " envy, 
cruelty and hate sprawl at large with the blessing of nearly 
the whole bench of Bishops." 

The peculiar character of Christian revelation cannot be 
properly understood without reference to the notable advance 
made by Judaism in the course of its history. From mono- 
latry to monotheism, from tribal faith to personal religion, 
from a God of power and wrath to a God of mercy and love, 
from a Lord of Hosts to a Heavenly Father, from a God fond 
of rituals and sacrifices to a God responding to righteousness 
and prayer, from a God to whom the shadowy Sheol is practi- 
cally no concern to a God on whom the virtuous could always 
rely for immortality and merited reward in heaven these 
are no mean achievements in any race, circumstanced as 
Israel was, during a period of about a thousand years. 73 We 
should add that the political vicissitudes of the race were also 
responsible for a growing apocalyptic literature in which the 
advent of the Messiah was delineated with emotional fervour 
and the end of all creation awaited with eager and anxious ex- 

NOtto, the Idea oj the Holy. Ch. X; eee also Hobhouse, Morals in Evo- 
lution, II, pp. 119 f. 

72 Sec Convention of Religion in India, 1909, I, p. 51. 

W See Pringle-PftttiBon, Studi** in the Philosophy of Religion, j>. 147, 


pectation. It has been repeatedly pointed out that if the indi- 
vidual teachings of Jesus are taken into consideration, it would 
be possible to match each of them by a Eabbinical parallel : 
it would be strange indeed if in a race given to religious 
experimentation the reverse should be the case. It would be 
necessary also to remember that possibly at one stage of his 
career Jesus adapted his message to the needs of his race, 
which explains the institution of the twelve Apostles, each to 
judge one tribe of Israel, his solicitude for the lost sheep of 
the house of Israel but not for the Gentiles nor for the 
Samaritans whom his disciples were enjoined to avoid, his 
scrupulous adherence to the laws and customs of the race 
which he said he had come not to destroy but to fulfil, and 
his claim to be the Messiah for whom the nation had been 
expectantly waiting. 74 It is possible to add that what is true 
of the teachings of Jesus is also true of the teachings about 
Jesus and that the details of his life can now be matched by 
Judaic, Egyptian, Hellenic, Zoroastrian, Buddhistic and 
other parallels. 75 His birth, ministration, sayings, institu- 
tions, trial, death and resurrection have all been found to 
resemble this or that feature of more ancient cults, and this 
has led some to go to the length of supposing that Jesus wq,s 
not an historic individual at all but a mere conglomeration 
of ideals. It is well to remember that about Buddha and Krsna 
also the same doubt has been raised and that the theory 
of a solar myth has been propounded in their case as in 
that of Jesus. We shall leave the discussion of these, 
foundational questions to more competent hands : ours is the 
more humble task of appraising the value of revelations that 
are traditionally associated with these founders of faiths. 

In what then did the originality of Jesus lie? The 
question is best answered in the words of Montefiore, 76 a 

ft Basanta Coomar Bose, Christianity, Oh. 3. Similarly, Isaiah, whom Christ 
adopts as his model, " nowhere extends the blessings of the Kingdom (of God) to 
tho heathen world/* See B. H. Charles, op. cit., p. 93. 

75 See Dhirendranath Chowdhury, Vedantavftgila, In Search of Jesus 
Christ, Chs. XVIil, XIX, XX. 

w Quoted hy Pringle-Pnttison, Studies in the Philosophy of Religion, p. 178 
(foot-note); see also The History of Christianity in Modern Knowledge, pp. 


liberal Jew with a candid appreciation of the merits of 
Christianity. " It is apparently a fact," sqys he, " that 
Jesus thought of God as his (and our) Father, and 
used the term Father for God more habitually and constantly 
than is the case with any one Eabbi of whom we know. 11 
Of the Beatitudes he says, " There is a certain glow and 
intensity about them which seems new and distinctive. We 
can find Kabbinic parallels to each of them, but as a whole 
they seem original." " The Babbis," he observes, 
" attached no less value to repentance than Jesus. . . But 
to seek out the sinner, and, instead of avoiding the bad com- 
panion, to choose him as your friend, in order to work his 
moral redemption, this was, I fancy, something new in the 
religious history of Israel. The rescue and deliverance of 
the sinner through pity and love and personal service the 
work and the method seem both alike due to the teacher of 
Nazareth." Comparisons are always odious, but it is always 
possible to appreciate what the followers of a particular 
religion think their prophet has done for them and for the 
world at large. If we turn to any Christian account of the 
special contributions of Jesus to the stock of man's religious 
Experience, we shall almost invariably find an emphasis on 
the three following messages, as enunciated by Harnack, 
namely, (1) the Kingdom of God and its coming, (2) God the 
Father and the infinite value of the human soul, and (3) the 
higher righteousness and the commandment of love. 77 

Regarding the first, it is possible to differentiate the 
traditional and the moral aspect, which are almost equally 
balanced in the Synoptic Gospels. 78 On the one hand. \ve 
have the more material picture of a Kingdom of God, to be 
established here below by Messianic effort " before the 
present generation have passed away," and, as a corollary 
thereto, an insistence upon immediate repentance and the 
purging of the world of demons and diseases. There was no 
time to wait as the end of the world was drawing nigh and 

ro Harnack, What is Christianity?, p. 52. 
78 See Religious Foundations. Ch. VI. 


the Heavenly Court was waiting for Christ and His Apostles 
to do their earthly office of warning and help before taking 
up their position of heavenly assessors. In this Jesus 
was simply echoing contemporary Jewish beliefs, with this 
difference, however, that he took active steps to show the 
people the way to this Kingdom and to warn them against 
the false sense of security engendered by conformity to 
customary morality. But Jesus did not also miss any oppor- 
tunity to emphasise the spiritual aspect of this Kingdom 
it was already in their midst, it did not come with observa- 
tion, it was not of this world, it was within them. Thus the 
Kingdom of God was not a far-off divine event which lie, as 
the lineal descendant of David, was to rule over with the 
assistance of his saints. It was a spiritual kingdom which 
the poor in spirit and those persecuted for righteousness' sake 
were alone to inherit, as also those who had the lowliness of 
heart and the innocence necessary to match them with little 
children. As such, it was present wherever men lived in 
" righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit," irres- 
pective of the race or nationality to which they belonged. 79 

Now, this Kingdom of God is governed by peculiar laws. 
The right of naturalisation is bestowed automatically by 
righteous living just as forfeiture of rights follows the aban- 
donment of the moral path. The citizens form a goodly 
fellowship and the relation of master and servant is unknown 
in fact, all distinctions of rank are abolished in that King- 
dom. 80 Unlike the preponderatingly negative injunctions of 
the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, the Christian 
prescription is decidedly positive, it preaches the precepts 
not of fear but of love. ' Hear, Israel ; the Lord our God 
is One Lord.' ' And tliou shalt love the Lord thy God with 
all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind, 
and with all thy strength : this is the first commandment, 

WSee C. J. J. Webb. The Contributions of Christianity to Ethics, p. 99 f.; 
also R. M. Jones, How shall we think of Christ? in Religious Foundations, p. 24 f. ; 
A. Alexander, Christianity and Ethics, p. 132 f . ; also Bertrand Kussell, Why I am 
not a Christian, pp. 22-23. 

W John 15.14 f. 


The second is like, namely, this : Thou shalt love thy neigh- 
bour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater 
than these.' 81 Paul's commentary on the prophetic message 
will put the matter in a clearer light : "Owe no man anything, 
but to love one another ; for he that loveth another hath ful- 
filled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, 
Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear 
false witness, Thou shalt not covet ; and if there be any 
other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, 
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no 
ill to his neighbour : therefore love is the fulfilling of the 
law." 82 It is evident that although in a sense the laws of 
this kingdom are simple and positive, their fulfilment is no 
easy task. Love that gives away everything goes fundamen- 
tally against the egoistic instinct, and in that sense neither 
is the Christian task easy nor its yoke light. Hence, ns 
Alexander points out, 83 although the kingdom preached by 
Christ is in one sense a present reality it is at the same time 
n, thing of gradual growth it is " a great social ideal to be 
realised by the personal activities and mutual services of its 
Citizens." " When the same love which He Himself mani- 
fested in His life becomes the feature of His disciples; when 
His spirit of service and sacrifice pervades the world, and the 
brotherhood of man and the federation of nations everywhere 
prevail; then, indeed, shall the sign of the Son of Man appear 
in the heavens, and then shall the tribes of the earth see Him 
coming in the clouds with power and glory. " M 

Although there was a singular appropriateness in preach- 
ing the message of a Kingdom of God among the Jews, to 
whom the idea of a Heavenly Lawgiver was no novel idea, 
Christ brought a new significance into the matter by thinking 
of God not merely as King but also as Father. The divine 
voice had announced Christ's ministration by calling him His 
beloved Son : Christ held fast to this revelation and taught 

Mark 12.29f . 

Bom. 13.8f. See Streeter, The Buddha and the Christ, p. 183 
creative will-to-God) ; p. 8*7 f. 

A. Alexander, Christianity and Efhiu, pp. 186-37. 
W /bid., pp. 189-40, 


that even a sinner was only a prodigal son whom a merciful 
Father would be ever willing to welcome back. Grace re- 
places Law and rays of Hope lighten up even the darkest gloom 
of Sin. It seenjs incredible that " though our sins as scarlet 
be they shall be bleached as white as snow;" but w.e are 
asked to believe in this miracle, to have faith in the message 
of salvation brought by Christ, to forgive others as we hope 
to be forgiven ourselves. 85 

This sonship of man depended, however, on two condi- 
tions. To know God as Father men must accept the revela- 
tion as preached by Christ. " He presented Himself as the 
indispensable organ and mediator of this knowledge. He, 
and He alone, had it; He, and He alone, had the power to 
communicate it; and it lay with him to determine to whom 
the revelation should be made." 86 His claim that he who had 
peen Him had seen the Father was meant to be taken in an 
exclusive sense as implying that in no other way was the 
Father knowable and in no other way except through Him 
was atonement with God possible. As Hcott remarks, 87 
1 ' Jesus is conceived as summing up in His person the essen- 
tial qualities of the Kingdom (of God), faith, obedience, love 
toward God, superiority to the forces of evil, life that is be- 
yond the reach of death. And it follows that men's relation 
to the Kingdom is conditioned by their relation to Him. 
Upon that relation depends a man's attainment of the 
summum bonum, his true happiness in this life and the life to 

w The History of Christianity in Modern Knowledge, p. 844. 

Ibid., p. 841. See also Bom. 15.8-12. 

It should be added that this monopoly of revelation and salvation by 
Christianity was not preached uniformly by the Apostles. Thus Peter is represented 
as saying, " Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons. : but in 
every nation he that fcareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him." 
(Acts 10.84, 85). It appears also that Christ's message was primarily meant for 
the Jews, for Peter proceeds to add : " The word which God sent unto* the child- 
ren of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ : (ho is lord of all :) that word, I 
Fay, yc know etc." It is only fair to odd, however, that the command of the re- 
surrected Christ to " teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost " (Mat. 28.19-20; Mark 16.15-16; Luke 
24.47) is what the Church has preferred to follow. 

87 See The Theology of the New Testament in History of Christianity, etc., 
p. 340, 


come." The second condition is that men must take active 
steps to realise the potentialities of their sonship to God. As 
Jones observes, 88 " It does not follow, because God is Father, 
that all men are by nature sons. Sonship is not a birth-rela- 
tionship. It is an attitude of heart, a spirit, a way of life. 
Nobody is a son until he wants to be one, until he discovers 
his opportunity, wakes up to his possibilities and chooses to 
enter his heritage. God is Father; we become sons." Or, 
as Scott puts it, " Jesus assumes that God is the Father of 
all men; He does not assume that all men are His sons. The 
relationship is for men potential. It requires to be realised 
in thought and practice, recovered, it may be, through 
penitence." 89 

We are not concerned just now with the development of 
the original revelation of Christ except in so far as il explains 
the rise of a new prophet. To Paul the expiatory death of 
Christ became the central concept of the new religion and the 
crucified Christ not only abrogated the Law but also abolished 
sin. 90 The Pharisees had insisted on the existence of a righte- 
ous people as the condition of the advent of the Messiah; Paul 
preached Messianic righteousness as a gift of God, and sinful 
men could, according to him, participate in Messianic salva- 
tion by believing in the message and the mission of the cruci- 
fied Prophet. 91 " Whilst the direction of the primitive 
Christian consciousness was predominantly, one may say 
exclusively, eschatological, and the life of a Christian on 
earth appeared for this reason to be still an expectation, not 

yet a completion, Paul makes the " newness of life " 

to begin not with that completion on the other side of the 
grave but with the life of faith on earth of the Messiah's com- 
munity." 92 He preached at the same time the heavenly 
origin of the person of Christ and " the part of Mediator was 
ascribed to the pre-existing Christ, not only in the historical 
revealing of salvation, but also in the creation of the world 

** Religious Foundations, p. 24. 

W History of Christianity, p. 841. 

WPfleiderer, Paulinism, I, p. 7. 

91 Ibid., p. 12. 

w Ibid., p. 19 (see also History of Christianity etc., p. 374). 



itself." 93 We shall not enter here into the Christological 
speculations of the Apostolic and the sub- Apostolic age; 
suffice it to say that within a short time of Christ's death the 
deification of Christ was complete, and he became the second 
person of the Trinity, the eternal Logos, who, to redeem man- 
kind from its sins, incarnated Himself and, offering Himself 
as a sinless sacrifice, effected once for all the reconciliation of 
God and man the restoration or establishment of " a rela- 
tion of amity, love, and sonship between man and God." 54 
No wonder that the superhuman achievements of Christ should 
lead to his being called Lord an epithet which in popular 
Christianity tended to assimilate Christ to God and, by sub- 
ordinating the human aspect to the divine, to lead to a kind 
of deification and idolatry in some of the Christian Churches. 115 
To trace the evolution of this idea would be to write a history 
of the early Christian Church, but we would then be in the 
realm of philosophy and dogma and not of revelation. 

It is remarkable that while much of the theological im- 
plication of their message and the squabble over its interpre- 
tation has been forgotten, two of the religious leaders of man- 
kind should shine with undimmed lustre all through the cen- 
turies, namely, Jesus and Buddha. Each received remarka- 
ble personal homage from a small band of devoted followers, 
who took infinite pains to commit to memory the sayings of 
their spiritual leader and arranged for their oral transmis- 
sion till they were recorded in writing. Principles took flesh 
and blood in their own lives and each embodied in his perso- 
nal character the ideals which he preached. This actuality 
of the ideal invested their messages with a tremendous moral 
force, against which bare principles could hardly hold their 
ground. The dignity and equality of individuals which both 
taught tended to break down the distinctions of class and race 
in Judaea and India respectively, and laid the foundations of 

wPfleiderer, Paulinism, I, p. 148. 

** About the sinlessness of Christ, see Streeter, Reality, p. 189 f. ; see also 
Ibid., p. 231 f.; also Foundations, Sixth Essay (The Atonemtnt), by Moberly. 

W See Foundations, Fifth Essay, p. 213 f. (for a discussion about the Divi- 
nity of Christianity by William Temple). 


a unhcrsali&m in religion to which the ancient world of either 
place was not accustomed. Both discarded the sacrificial reli- 
gion and preached instead a message of morality and compas- 
sion, which had the effect of withdrawing the mind from for- 
malities and concentrating it on the essentials of ethical and 
amicable living. It may be added, as a further point of rc- 
Kciuhl.-uicc, that veneration to each ultimately led to apotheosis 
with its attendant theological speculations about the nature 
and necessity of incarnation. But this apart, each proclaim- 
ed a way of life which subsequent ages were forced either lo 
incorporate in their creed or to rebut but could never ignore. 
lUuidhism marched in its victorious conquest towards the East 
and Christianity towards the West; but wherever either went 
it forced the local religions to a close self-analysis and these 
either succumbed completely or brought out the best in them 
to match its moral and spiritual grandeur. To-day the world 
is more Christian and Buddhist than it imagines, suspects or 
confesses; for all creeds, reformed since the advent of Christ 
or Buddha, have been quickened into ethical life by the con- 
tact of one or other of the two and Christianity, being a fuller 
revelation in the sense that it enunciated the laws of duty and 
devotion alike, has made wider appeal than Buddhism with its 
message of negation and its subtle philosophy. 96 

Soon, however, a new prophet arose in Arabia with n 
new message. It does not appear that the monotheism of the 
Jews, whose scriptural literature was possibly known among 
the Arabs, had any considerable influence on the religious be- 
liefs of the people of Arabia. These made their annual pil- 
grimage to the shrine at Mecca where idols of male and female 
deities were deposited. 97 ' Here were ranged the three hun- 
dred and sixty idols, one for each day, round the great god 

1 See Streoter, The Buddha and the Christ, pp. 61-71; also Ameer All, Th* 
Spirit of Islam, p. xlv. 

w Lammens points out that " Arab paganism know no idols properly BO 
called, no formal representations of divine beings. Its divinities were stones which 
took the most varied forms : oddly shaped blocks, monoliths, erected or strangely 
oculptured by atmospheric erosion, assuming sometimes the appearance of men, 
ol columns or pylons. Some remained attached to the rook where they had been 


Hobal, carved of red agate, the two ghazalas, gazelles of gold 
and silver, and the image of Abraham and his son. Hero 
the tribes came, year after year, " to kiss the black stone 
which had fallen from heaven in the primeval days of Adam, 
and to make the seven circuits of the temple naked.'* 58 
Drinking, gambling and music were widely indulged in, poly- 
gamy and incest were rampant, and infanticide was prac- 
tised." The tribes were disunited and internecine quarrels 
marked their history. The Jews had a considerable following 
in South Arabia but proselytism was ceasing among them. 
The Christians too had a fair following in the North and also 
in the South but they mostly belonged to the heretical sect? 
of the Nestorians and the Jacobites, which were constantly at 
strife with each other. 100 Nor was there any love lost between 
the Jews and the Christians. That Muhammad's restless 
mind, dissatisfied with the religious practices of his people, 
should seek enlightenment from the Jews and the Christians 
is a priori probable; but it is almost certain that in the early 
days of his career he, like the contemporary Hanifs, failed to 
distinguish them clearly and made occasional confusions be- 
tween the traditions of the two. 101 His personal regard for the 
earlier prophets was undoubted, even though at times it seems 
that his main purpose was to utilise their sayings and deeds 
in furtherance of his own position and creed. Other tradi- 
tions had also filtered down to Mecca; and it is not unlikely 

discovered. Others, like the Black Htone, were preciously enclosed in a small build- 
ing where the worshippers were not content to surround them with a circle of 
stones. Usually there was a well in the neighbourhood which served for ablutions, 

nud often also a sacred tree, itself a god or the habitation of a divine being All 

round stretched the baran, sacred territory affording the right of sanctuary to all 
Lving things, men and animals. Even the trees of the haran must be religiously 
respected and no branch must be plucked from them. Islam : Beliefs and Institu- 
tion*, p. 18. 

*> Ameer Ali, op. ctt., p. Ixiv. 

ULammens points out that " there is nothing to prove that infanticide was 
prevalent in Arabia except in the Tamim tribe which appears to have practised i* 
during a severe famine." He thinks that the imputation is based upon the dis- 
regard of the Beduins for their female children. Islam : Beliefs and Institutions, 
p. 21. 

iw Ameer Ali, op. cit., p. li. 

Ml JJammens, op. cit. 9 p. 22. 


that, as Stubbe remarks, 102 " the state of Arabia being divided 
into Jews, Judaising Christians, Judaising Arabs, Jacobites, 
Nestorians, Arians, Trinitarians, Manichees, Montanists, 
Sabaeans and Idolaters, gave him occasion and opportunity to 
examine and try all sects and sorts of religions." 

The revelation that came to Muhammad was primarily 
directed against the polytheism and the idolatry of his own 
people and secondarily against the Jewish and Christian con- 
ceptions of God. 103 God is one without a second, entirely 
formless and immeasurably greater than the puny gods that 
the idolaters worshipped. Eternal hell-fire awaits those 
who do not forsake their idols or who place gods beside God. 
The world is created and governed by God not in sport hut in 
all seriousness, and angels and other spirits act as His 
messengers and carry out His behests. The will of God is 
revealed through angelic agency to prophets, and God in His 
infinite mercy always warns people through their own pro- 
phets against sinful life before visiting their iniquities with 
dire punishment. Nothing can be hidden from His sight, 
but He is ever ready to forgive those who stray from the path 
of virtue provided they repent and leave off their sinful life 
and call upon the name of God and perform the practices of 
Islam as preached by Muhammad. A blissful state in heaven 
is reserved for those who believe in God and the angels and 
the prophets, in resurrection on the Judgment Day, when 
each will have to give an account of his own life, and also in 
separate treatments to be meted out to the virtuous and the 
sinful. God's power is subject to no restriction and He can 
enable even an illiterate man like Muhammad to reveal a book 
of such literary excellence that men and jinn together can 
never aspire to produce its like. To Muhammad God 
has sent down through Gabriel an Arabic Qur'an from heaven, 
sura by sura, as occasions demanded. All salvation must 
be mediated through him and after him no other prophet 
would be vouchsafed unto nations. God is omnipotent and 

101 Stubbe, op. cit., p. 148. 

1 See Ameer All, op. cit., Part ll, Cb. I, tfhe Ideal of Islam. 


good, and submission to His will is the paramount virtue. 
God can abrogate a previous revelation, but He does so only 
to give a better one in its place. He has determined all things 
from eternity, and none can even believe in Him without Hip 
will. All men are equal before His eyes and the duty of man is 
to live in peace with others. But there must be no compromise 
with idolatry or apostasy, and while leniency is permissible 
to monotheists (followers of a revealed book) like the Jews, 
the Christians and the Zoroastrians, polytheism and idolatry 
must be given no quarters. 104 The believers must be suffi- 
ciently powerful to carry out their reforms, and thus it i^ 
essential that they should be in possession of the holy places 
of the nation, and their power and prowess command respect 
elsewhere. But power must be used to succour the distressed 
and to help the needy. Widows, orphans and the poor of the 
community must be supported by the compulsory tithes of 
the wealthy, 105 and believing slaves should be manumitted. 
Usury should be abjured for it works hard on the poor. 
Women should be respected and provided for. 

Certain broad differences between Islam and Judaism can 
at once be noticed, although there is no doubt that Muhammad 
drew largely upon Jewish sources, Biblical and Talmudic, 
for much of his social legislation and his cosmological and 
historical speculation. Direct revelation of God's will, ns 
on Mount Sinai to Moses, is denied : God is too far above 
the world and too majestic to be directly accessible to man. 
Besides, He has no form and to that extent all stories about 
God's visible appearance to man must be discredited. 106 
Secondly, the entire sacrificial cult of ancient Judaism is 
abandoned. No representation of God was to be permit- 
ted not even symbolic ones inside the place of 

U* Sura 2.186. Muslim, Imn, Tradition 82 (quoted by Wensinek, The 
Muslim Creed, p. 18) : 4i The Apostle of Allah has said : I am ordered to make 
war upon people till they say : There is no God but Allah.** 

WAbu Bakr is represented as holding the v.'ew that between those who 
followed a false prophet or gave up religion altogether and those who professed 
Islam but paid no zaMt there was no difference and war was justifiabh against 
both. TTmar held a separate view. See Wensinck, op. cit. t pp. 18-14. 

106 o n the question of seeing Allah, see Wensinck, op. tit., p. 68 f. 


worship. After his breach with the Jews the kebla was 
changed from Jerusalem to Mecca, and this, combined with 
the retention of some of the heathen Arabic practices, .(/., 
pilgrimage to Mecca, and the claim to reveal an Arabic Qur'Jin 
for the Arabs, 107 must have appealed to the national pride of 
his countrymen and ultimately secured their conversion. 
Muhammad was unwilling to countenance the excessive 
veneration for the Law which the Jews exhibited, and 
close religious corporations, like the Babbis and the Scribes, 
were also not to his liking. Besides, while respectful to- 
wards earlier prophets, he disfavoured the bestowal of almost 
divine honours upon Moses and the excessive veneration for 
Ezra who, because of his restoration of the national life and 
law, had been declared by the Jews to be the son of God. He 
had, of course, nothing but undisguised hatred for such Tews 
as continued the practice of worshipping the Toraphim- - 
1 false gods and idols,' as they are called in the Qur'*. Islam 
was represented as the true religion of Abraham which the 
Jews had corrupted or forsaken. 108 

Towards Christianity Muhammad entertained mixed 
feelings. He believed in the virgin birth of Christ and also in 
his investiture with the Holy Spirit, his mission, his miracles 
and his second coming. He regarded him as belonging to 
the same prophetic succession as that to which he himself be- 
longed and as confirming the revelations of earlier prophets 
beginning with Abraham. He disbelieved, however, in the 
crucifixion of Jesus and thought that another in the 
likeness of him had been killed by the Jews. He, 
however, reserved his severest condemnation for those 
who had wilfully removed all New Testament pas- 
sages referring to his own oncoming, who preached 
Jesus not as the servant but as the only begotten son 

*w When Muhammad called himself umtnf , he meant thereby that he was 
the Arabian Prophet of the gentiles, speaking to the gentiles to whom no Apostle 
had ever boen sent before. His feelings are the same as those of St. Paul, when 
he writes to the Romans : " I speak to you, Gentile*, inasmuch as I am the 
Apostle of the Gentiles." In the same sense Muhammad emphasises that the Kuran 
is an " Arabian book " or an " Arabian verdict. " Wensinck, op. eft., p. 6. 
p . 7. 


of God (for God neither begets nor is begotten) and bestowed 
on him divine honours, and who abandoned the Jewish ideal 
of a householder's life in favour of celibacy and monasticism 
(later on accepted by the Sufis). 109 There is no doubt that 
Jesus is reverentially treated in the Qur'an; how far this 
exceptional treatment was dictated by a hope that the Chris- 
tians would readily accept his claim to be " the seal of the 
prophets " must remain an open question. 

It must be admitted that Muhammadanism is a unique 
miracle of religious history. To have taught undiluted mono- 
theism to a nation of idolaters, not far above the primitive 
stage in its social dealings, and to have used it as the army of 
Allah to conquer a stretch of land from Spain to India 
within a short time of Muhammad's death are achievements 
to which few parallels can be found in history. Islam has 
ever been the champion of uncompromising monotheism; and 
although honest differences of opinion must always exist about 
the methods adopted to conquer countries and convert their 
citizens, there can be no doubt that lust of power and perse- 
cution was strongly reinforced by religious motives and by a 
genuine conviction that no souls should be left in danger of 
their salvation if Islam could help it. While preaching the 
message of peace that there should be no compulsion in reli- 
gion, Islam believes at the same time that after the final re- 
velation has come through Muhammad every soul that hangs 
back from it is doomed. Conversely, it is the duty of each 
believer to disseminate the New Dispensation : Muhammad 
himself set the example by inviting some of the potentates of 
his own time to accept his message. 110 As he had to fight 

109 gee Lammens, op. cit., p. 117. 

ill The view that Muhammad conceived of his mission as a universal one 
is naturally derived from Muslim tradition. Here it reaches its most characteristic 
expression in the story of how Muhammad sent letters to the Great Powers of his 
time, the Emperor at Byzantium (Kaisar), the King of Persia (Kisra), the Negus 
of Abyssinia (al-Nadjashl), the Governor of Egypt (al-Mukawkis), inviting them 
to embrace Islam. These letters are. however, of a doubtful authority, if indeed 
they are not wholly legendary. Signora Dr. Vaeca is probably right in sup- 
posing that these and similar tales were invented to furnish the Prophet's exe- 
quatur for the conquerors who conducted the Muhammadan armies to the four 
quarters of the world. Wensinck, op. dt. 9 pp. 7-8. 


against false faith and cruel 'custom simultaneously, 'his 'beck 
coritains fboth elements of genuine theism and principles >of 
social government the second becoming more and more fre- 
quent and elaborate as he began to administer larger states 
and govern a wider population. What he did for his country- 
men is best described in the language of one of the exiles to 
the court of the Negus of Abyssinia : " O 'King, we were 
plungefl in the depth of ignorance and barbarism; we adored 
idols, we lived in unchastity; we ate dead bodies, and we 
spoke abominations; we disregarded every feeling of humanity, 
and the 'duties of hospitality and neighbourhood; we knew no 
law but'that of the strong, when God raised among us a man, 
of Whose birth, truthfulness, -honesty and purity we 'were 
aware; and he called us to the unity of God, and taught us not 
to associate anything with Him; he forbade us 'the worship 
of Jdols; and ^enjoined us to speak the truth, to be fatthfurto 
our trusts, to be 'merciful, and to regard the rights of 'neigh- 
bours; he forbade us to speak evil of women, or to ( et the 
substance of orphans; he ordered us 'to fly from vices, andio 
abstain irom evil; to offer prayers, 'to render alms, *to dbservo 
the fast." 111 

'In order to indicate the 'historical evolution of Semitic 
revelation we 'have thus far ignorefl the great prophet Whose 
eschatdlogical teachings the Semitic creeds probably absorbed 
without open acknowledgment, namely, Zarathustra. 112 
Carelessness, contamination and persecution all combined to 
hide and mutilate 'tihe 'true message of the Prophet of Iran, 
and it is only in recent times that we have been put in posses- 
sion of such of the original revelation as is extant. Although 
his fame gtood'high in the ancient world his age was unknown, 
and even to-day we are still wrestling with the problem of his 
date. At a time when men were engaged in worshipping a 
multiplicity of spirits, good and bad, and propitiated them with 

ui Ameer Ali, The Spirit of Islam, pp. 29-30. 

in See Sdderblou, The Living Qod, Ch. VI, Religion as ftght against 'Evil. 



bloody sacrifices perhaps by killing the animals seized un- 
lawfully in raids upon a settled pastoral population, he claim- 
ed to have seen God and received from Him a commission to 
preach a new message of spiritual life. The message was at 
once ethical, social and religious. Man was enjoined to re- 
gard himself as a creature of two worlds, but not in such a 
fashion as to imply that the abnegation of the temporal en- 
sured the attainment of the eternal. The House of Song or 
Praise, as Heaven is felicitiously described, is a continuation 
of the earthly life, and not only the soul but also the body 
would wake up in heaven after falling finally asleep on earth. 
Legitimate pleasures of the body are not only permitted but 
enjoined. Asceticism is condemned while a householder's 
life is always praised, exactly as in Judaism and Islam : 
as a matter of fact, the Prophet himself was a 
married man and had a familv. Men are asked to cultivate 
social virtues and to lend a helping hand to the needy and the 
distressed. The Ox-soul is represented as crying out for 
succour and help from the oppression of the nobles and the 
depredations of the wild nomads who carried awav flocks of 
animals and killed them for food or at nocturnal orgiastic 
sacrifices. 113 The faithful are enjoined to embrace a settled 
life and to labour hard for the foundation of permanent home- 
stead. " He who sows the fields that lie fallow, who tills his 
farms, prunes his vineyards, ploughs the furrows, pastures 
his flocks, extirpates the noxious creatures that infest the 
earth, and turns barren deserts into fertile fields, is tlfe one 
that furthers the cause of Bighteousness." 114 

Life under these conditions is fairly strenuous; so : t is 
to a life of struggle against evil and imperfection that the pro- 
phet invites his followers. The responsibilities and rewards 

i Moulton thinks that originally flesh on grass was used by the Iranians 
for sacrifice. Sdderblom thinks that Zarathustra banned thisr Mithraic sacrifice 
from th Q worship of Ahnra Mazda. See Moulfcon, Early Zoroastrianism, p. 68; 
Saderblom, The Living Qod, p. 180; Hang, Essays, *fo., p. 189. 

U'Dhalla, Zoroastrian Theology, p. 16. Bftderblom thinks that agriculture 
was unknown to Zarathnstr* and that he really advocated the life of a pastnre- 
keeper and a cattle-tender (op. tit., p. 179, 336). 


of a fighting life are great; hence the necessity of constant 
wakeful ness. But the result of the fight is sure victory for 
goodness; hence there is ample scope for optimism. The 
triumph of goodness at the end is, however, not to be viewed 
as predestined in the sense that without the active co-operation 
of man the world will work out its appointed destiny. Man 
is a fellow-worker with God in the eradication of evil and the 
result of his labour is not only the defeat of evil but also the 
attainment of the blissful realm of Heaven, while his non- 
cooperation means prolonging the miseries of existence and 
bringing about his own suffering in hell. The greatest enemy 
of the human soul is Druj, i.e., Lie in all its forms. Purity 
of thought, speech and action is the essential condition of a 
moral life : Zarathuslra succeeded so well in inculcating this 
principle that at the time of Herodotus the Persians enjoyed 
a reputation for truthfulness which the great historian consi- 
dered to be sufficiently important to deserve notice in his book. 
This ethical preaching was based upon a monotheism 
which was a novelty in Iran. This Aryan " Puritan of the 
ancient world " preached monotheism with a Semitic zeal 
and, in the fashion of the Hebrew prophets, stigmatised the 
daevas as lies and abominations. He raised Ahura Mazdah, 116 
the all-wise Lord, to the supreme position and, while not ex- 
pressly forbidding other gods, ignored their existence. 316 He 

115 The origin of this divine name is obscure. Both historical probability 
and analogy in the history of religion lead us to assume that Mazdah, 'with 
Ahura, as the name of the divinity, existed long before Zarathustra. Instead of 
the Lord, Ahura, or the All-Wise, Mazdah, Zarathustra not infrequently calls God 
Mazdah Ahura, in two words declined separately, the All- Wise Lord. Sub- 
sequently, in the later A vesta, the two words are otherwise juxtaposed, so as to 
make one double name for God, Ahura Mazdah. which never occurs in the Gathas 
at one word. The constituent parts of the double name are, however, declined 
separately in the Avesta. It is noteworthy that Darius I about 514-510 B.C., in 
his great inscription at Behishtun, employs the same firmly established divine name 
in one word : Auramazdah, who is there called the god of the Aryans,--Sdder- 
blom, op. cit. t p. 196. 

Prof. Rommel's discovery of the divine name Assara Mazas in an Assyrian 
inscription of the reign of Assur-bani-pal involves an antiquity for the name of 
Ahura Mazdah higher than any ncholar could venture to assign to Zarathustra, 
whose claim to the authorship of this characteristic title must, I fear, be aban- 
doned. Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism, p. 31. 

lie Sdderblom, op. ctt., p. 105; also p. 196. 


does not take the credit of founding the religion to himself, 
for he refers to old revelations, and praises the fire-priests; 117 
but there is no doubt that the world is indebted to him for 
preaching ethical monotheism in a region where idolatry 
was at one time rampant and polytheism was the prevailing 
creed. While it is possible to trace the germs of later dualism 
and tjhe personification of abstract qualities in his own message 
to mankind, 118 he cannot be personally held responsible for 
what the Magis made out of his religion in later times. Ahura 
Mazdah is the sole God : his body is like the light and his soul 
like Truth. He is interrogated by Zarathustra as a friend by 
a friend on the various essentials of religion 119 and righteous 
living; there is nothing of the "terrific majesty " of Yahweh 
about Him and He does not speak in voices of thunder or from 
behind: a veil of darkness. 120 

The message of the Prophet covers both the here and the 
hereafter. Whosoever in piety and devotion fights for the 
moral order of Ahura Mazdah and drives away the daevas and 
the lies from his life will pass easily over the bridge, that 
separates the good from the evil after their death (Ginvato 
peretu), into the House of Song or Praise (Garo demana), the 
region of Best Thought (Vohu Manah), 121 being helped thither 
by the advocacy and guidance of Zarathustra himself, by the 
judgment of Obedience to religious lore (Sraosha) 122 and the 
merit of the virtuous soul (Daena) that becomes fairer with 

IN Haug, op. c#., p. 294. Moulton and Spiegel translate the passages cited 
by West quite differently. See also Moulton, Early Zor. t pp. 80-31. 

118 The six spirits who together with Ahura Mazdah later form a heptad are 
all mentioned in one Gatha (47 .1) : 

" By his holy Spirit (Spenta Mainyu) and by Best Thought (Vahistem 
Manah; Vohu Manah, Good Thought), deed and word, in accordance with Bight 
(Asha. Asha Vahishtd), Mazdah Ahura with Dominion (Khshathra, 
Khahathra Vwya, the desired Dominion) and Piety (Armaiti, Spenta Armaiti, 
holy Devotion) shall give us Welfare (Haurvatat) and Immortality (Ameretat)." 
Soderblom, op. at., p. 189. 

Yasna 44 .1 ; 46 .2. 

UO Soderblom, op. eft., p. 202. 

in Moulton, Ear, Zor. t p. 162, 167, 170; Dhalla, Zot. Theo t , p. 57. 

la In the later periods Sraosha acts as a co-assessor with Mitbra (Spirit of 
Illumination and Truth) and Rashnu (Spirit of Justice), who all combine to 
make up a heavenly tribunal for the judgment of the dead. Dhalkt, Zor. Th., 
p. 41; also p. 106, 111. 


every good thought* word and action. The opposite is the 
fate of those who* like the Kavis, Earapans and USIJB, indulge 
in non-ethical and polytheistic activities. They would 1 be 
condemned to Hell which is described as " the House of the 
Lie (Druj) and of Worst Thought, the House of the Daevas, 
the Worst Existence and the like. 123 It is the realm of eternal 
misery, of darkness, bad food and cry of agony, of torment 
from one's own evil conscience. This eschatological message 
of Zarathustra has a special significance, for post-exilic 
Judaism took it over from the Persians along with their 
angelology and their anti-idolatrous monotheism, and made 
these the common property of the Semitic creeds. 124 Whatever 
might have been his own indebtedness to earlier religious 
thinkers of Persia, the message as passed on by Zarathustra 
to* later generations acted as a powerful leaven and affected 
contiguous cultures in a most penetrating manner. Has fol- 
lowers, though scattered like the Jews by persecution, have 
nob betrayed their spiritual trust, and his faith survives as 
one of the beacon lights of spiritual insight, handed down 
from, an ancient world where it had once blazed in the midst 
of surrounding' darkness. A certain amount of degeneration 
and' superstition has invaded Zoroastrianism in course of its 
progress through space and time but not to such an extent as 
to affect? seriously its most vital elements. 

We shall close our account of prophetic revelations with 
a reference to the other branch of the Aryan migration. In 
the A vesta we come across a class of people who worshipped 
the Daevas, perhaps with animal sacrifices, were addicted to 
a nomadic and pastoral life, and used to raid the settled 
habitations of the followers of Ahura Mazdah. Beferenees to 
their depredations and hostility are so frequent in the Avesta 
that it has not been unreasonably supposed that with these 
Daevayasnians the Mazdayasnians were in immediate and 
daily contact and that, therefore, they were not the Vedic 

in Moulton, Early Zor., p, 172. See Sneath (ed.), Religion and the Future 
Life, pp. 128-39. 

3* Some instructive, parallels have been shown by Moulton in his Early 
Zoroastrianism (Lecture IX, Zarathustra and Israel) but with a decided bias in 
favour of Judaism. 


Indians who have left their religious experiences, musings 
and doctrines in the sacred literature of the Hindus. They 
were probably those other Aryans of Iran who refused to ac- 
cept the supremacy of Ahura Mazdah over the other 
gods and also other aspects of the Zoroastrian reformation 
and preferred to stick to the ancient Aryan tradition 
of nature worship, sacrificial rite and nomadic habit. 
We may very well suppose that the Kavis, the 
Karapans and the Usijs of the Avesta had their parallels 
in India also and that Indian religion did not at any time 
confine itself to mere laudation of the divinities without some 
formal rite. But those who profess to find in the early reli- 
gious speculation o( India nothing but unmeaning jargon and 
soulless ceremony and those who cannot credit the Indians 
with any religious discovery but must refer their ethical 
Varuna to Iranian Ahura Mazdah 125 and their Bhakti cult to 
Christianity, are blind to that intellectual vigour of the new 
immigrants into India which in uninterrupted succession 
gave to the world the Mantras, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas 
and the Upanisads on her native soil. In fact, so far as 
written records go, the Vedic religion, of all ancient religions, 
possessed both female and male seers 126 and thus established 
the equal right of women with men to receive divine inspira- 
tion. It admitted the possibility of individual seers and also 
families of seers, 127 the latter corresponding to the schools of 
prophets in Judaism with this difference probably that in 
India the Vedic seers were either identified or associated with 
priests in the majority of cases and their verses were or 
could easily be put to liturgical uses in connection with 
different ceremonies. 

The contents of the Vedic revelations have been very 
differently assessed. The verses have been variously regarded 
as songs of shepherds and peasants; lyrical, outbursts of pri- 

185 See Griswold, The Religion of the Qigveda, p. 132 f.n.2, and p. 75. See 
also Keith, The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads, I, p. 33, 

i Female seers are not unknown in other religions (e.g., Judaism) but they 
are neither so prominent nor so early. 

l Griswold, op. ctfc., p. 68* 


mitive minds; laboured compositions of sophisticated poets 
meant for pleasing patrons and earning a living; editions of 
ancient materials, theistic and ritualistic, supplemented by 
newer materials (the language of the two parts being assimi- 
lated to each other by suitable levelling down and levelling up); 
divine inspirations to devout souls; eternal and uncreite 
truths flashed into the minds of religious geniuses at the be- 
ginning of each cycle of existence. It is indeed truo that 
during its long religious history Hinduism made other ex- 
periments in religious experience and, in fact, leaned more 
and more towards the sufficiency of self-knowledge and the 
futility of the cult of sacrifice preached by the Vedas. But if 
we limit ourselves only to the religious side of Hinduism, we 
shall find that the Vedas set a pattern which subsequent 
Hinduism has more or less faithfully followed. We must not 
forget that even the Vedas occasionally display speculative 
interest and that into books, professedly religious in outlook, 
strange agnostic verses have found their way. 

The Vedic sages were impressed most strongly by the 
protean variety of nature's happenings and the regularity of 
their order. There was Many and yet it was somehow One. 
The first, explains their Polytheism and the second their 
Pantheism. Departmental deities, more diaphanous and im- 
personal than the Greek gods, divide the different realms of 
existence among themselves and are invoked as separate 
entities; 128 yet at the same time they are very often associated 
together, they are supposed to possess common attributes, and 
their spheres of activity tend to overlap. They very seldom 
quarrel and generally live in harmony and friendship. 129 
As upholders of moral and cosmic order (rta\ they all labour 
together as befits members of a single heavenly family. No 
wonder that the Vedic sages should raise the gods 
to the highest position by turns or else regard them all as at 
bottom one or derived out of one ultimate principle. 120 

i8ee Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 6, 15; Griswold, op. rft., p. 81, 87. 
IB See Macdonell, op. tit., p. 18. 

MO Bhagavat Kurair Sastri, The Bhakti Cult in Ancient India, p. 10. "HV.i.164; 
AV, fc. 5.10. 


A tentative monotheism with the colourless 'Prajftpti as 
*the head of the 'pantheon 1 * -was, however, soon superseded by 
a pantheism in which the impersonal Brahman became 'the 
sole principle df existence, and plurality came to be regarded 
as illusion. With decreasing respect for the category of per- 
sonality the importance of the ethical Varuna, to whom 
prayers were originally offered for the remission of sins, 
-diminished also; the ethical order (rta), upheld by Varuna 
.Mitra, Agni, Surya and others, was dissociated from these 
gods and became transformed into an autonomous law of 
moral action (Karma); heaven and its denizens became transi- 
tory; and the belief that salvation was only a condition of the 
soul led to intense self-analysis and self-culture without -re- 
ference to divine aid and worship. But the strenuous life 
of knowledge and discipline was at the same time recognised 
as being beyond the capacity of the multitude, and for them a 
life of sacrificial works or religious devotion was prescribed. 
Thus, the Hindu sages recognised the temperamental mid 
intellectual differences of men and provided for -the intimate 
acceptance of religion by a system of graded spiritualism ;just 
as, like Plato, they practically recognised the differential 
capacities of men by arranging them in different castes with 
well-defined duties and obligations. There -is 'thus a method 
in the medley of .beliefs which constitute Hinduism. Basing 
itself on the observable 'diversity of natural phenomena, 
human constitutions and social cultures, Hinduism -has ever 
recognised that religion in its non-rational aspects must al- 
ways be diverse; 132 But recognising the .fundamental identity of 
the .rational element in man it has taught at the same time 
that all men -are bound to agree about -the unity <rtf godhead 
or of the ultimate principle of existence, however it -might 'be 
named and described and even if -exact description be not 
possible. While recognising partitions, it has hdd at *the 
same time that these are movable and 'that lower -grades 'can 

Ml Vigvakarrnan as creator and PuniRa as the material -etemetit of dll'creation 
are also met with. 

1 See Radhakrishnan, The Hindu View of Life, p. 20 f. 


be transcended by spiritual diligence, ethical conduct and 
performance of ordained rites and duties. 133 Caste disabilities 
have no bearing on the attainment of salvation, for this goes 
not with social privilege but with personal sanctity and can 
be secured in endless ways. 134 As Professor Badhakrislman 
remarks, Hinduism does not believe in any statutory metliods 
of salvation. 135 

Without an understanding of the fundamental basis of 
all existence and of the ways in which it can be approaclied, 
and assimilated to the self, it would not be possible to explain 
the large tolerance of the Hindu mind and the curioua mix- 
ture of idolatry, polytheism, theism and pantheism effected 
by it- Intensely conscious of the ubiquity of the ultimate 
principle, Hinduism has professed to see God everywhere 
in waters and stones, in plants and animals, in gurus iind 
Brahmins, in shining heavenly bodies and powers of nature, 
in heroes and godlings. God is everywhere just as salt is 
invisibly present in every part of the sea : He is most mani- 
fest where spiritual power, beauty and strength are present. 136 
Reality, however, overflows its manifestations and finite 
beings fail to convey the immensity and immeasurability of 
the Infinite. 137 This has been used as a justification by soiwe 
sages for transcending the category of personality in the con- 
ception of God and for holding the belief that all determination 
is negation. Reality is knowablc only through its limitations 
(upadhi); it is then that the duality of the worshipper and the 
worshipped comes into existence and religion becomes possi- 
ble. But it is only when the state of gnosis or absolute con- 
sciousness is reached that we realise that we are to love our 
neighbours as ourselves because we then know that all of us 

i The most orthodox school of Vedic theologians, the Mimfahsakas, go the 
length of maintaining that the sole aim of revelation is to teach the doctrine <rf 
sacrifice {Kantian). EBB. ii. 800. 

184 See The English Works of Raja Rammohun Roy (Panini Office, 1906). 
pp. 129-31 (An Apology for the pursuit of Final Beatitude, independently of 
Bzahmunioal observances). 

135 Radhakrishnan. The Hindu View of Life, p. 60. 

iMBh.G., x.41. 

W Sv. Up., 8.11-16. 



are identical with the ultimate reality itself. Keligious quarrels 
have no meaning when religion itself is bound to be supersed- 
ed by absolute knowledge or when, according to another sup- 
position, the same goal of salvation can be reached equally 
by all religions faithfully followed. This attitude of laissez 
faire explains why the pages of Indian history have been so 
little disfigured by religious wars and persecutions although 
there is abundant evidence that wordy battles of the sects 
were not unknown. Heretics, agnostics, fatalists, cere- 
monialists, materialists, mystics and philosophers have in their 
own way denied at different times this or that aspect of the 
theistic creed without rousing active hostility; 138 and innu- 
merable sects have risen within the bosom of Hinduism to 
satisfy the religious needs of people of different climes, times 
and cultures without any opposition from existing creeds. 

A survey of the records of revelation given above will 
show that while the Semitic types generally adopt a devotional 
attitude towards a single God and, following therefrom, an 
ideal of personal and social ethics, the Aryan religions of Iran 
and India refuse to disown the manifest multiplicity and con- 
tradictions of the experienced world and tend to be specula- 
tive and intellectual. In Iran, the Zoroastrian reformation 
sought to fix the unity and ethicality of godhead but later deve- 
lopments moved away towards duality and superstition. In 
India a reverse process of development took place and reli- 
gious thought moved away from multiplicity to unity to an 
impersonal Absolute beyond good and evil, to be realised in 
thought, or to a personal deity to be pleased by devotion. 139 
The heterodox religions of India took over the ethical aspect of 
the Vedic religion, discarded the effete gods who could be con- 
strained into beneficence by magical formulae and also the 
spiritual privileges that were being attached to the higher 
castes in course of time. They were thus primarily moralis- 
tic in temper, although they too emphasised the need of in- 
tellectual illumination and latterly made provision for satis- 

8Sv. Up. ,1.2; 6.1. 

139 EBB, ii, 789-9, art. BRAHMAN. 


fying the religious need by instituting systems of worship. 
Still, the broad division of revelations into devotional, intel- 
lectualistic and moralistic is defensible on practical grounds, 
and the Hindu distinction of Bhakti, Jnana and Karma as 
representing three different types of apprehending and ap- 
proaching God or the Absolute is not entirely arbitrary. 
There is no door of the mind through which divine inspiration 
cannot enter; and while a religion that establishes contact 
with every aspect of life is certainly to be preferred, we need 
not sneer at those whom religious appeal can reach only 
through one faculty. Were not the prophets themselves 
differentially touched by religious fervour ? Caitanya, Buddha 
and Zarathustra did not have the same mental make-up, nor 
had Muhammad and Mahavira. As media of revelation they 
had different indices of refraction; so the contents of their 
faith are deeply coloured by their inborn nature, social tradi- 
tion and individual upbringing. Tt is at this point that we 
come nearest to an understanding of the psychology under- 
lying the deification of prophets and belief in incarnation : 
unless God incarnates Himself to preach His message 
personally it can never represent His complete wish 
and wisdom. When the earthly prophet sees into the 
entire scheme of things, when in his goodness he 
desires to preach the complete jjruth as revealed and 
when he possesses the power to do so, he transcends his 
finitude altogether and becomes the transparent medium of 
divine revelation. He lays aside his limitations and bo- 
comes the veritable mouthpiece of the divine : no prophet can 
retain a double nature and yet become an infallible guide. 
The difficulty has been sought to be overcome in different reli- 
gions in different fashions. Hinduism believed that God be- 
came incarnate as occasions arose to re-establish the true reli- 
gion and restore the moral balance of the world; Christianity 
in its orthodox forms regarded Christ as the second person of 
the Trinity; Judaism and Zoroastrianism respectively made 
Moses and Zarathustra receive their messages direct from 
God; Muhammad is made by Islamic traditions not only to 
meet God but also to receive Divine revelations through an 


angel, who could presumably have access to divine message 
in a more perfect fashion than man. 

But white every positive religion is anxious to slwxw 
that it is the most rational of all faiths, most, if not all, are 
agreed that the unaided exercise of reason is not adequate 
for the knowledge of God. The eighteenth century deists of 
England sought to establish theism on rational grounds and 
to prove that revelation was unnecessary for those who were 
able and willing to draw the theistic implications of their 
experiences of men and the world. There was indeed dis- 
agreement about the most fruitful data, namely, whether it 
was the beauty and adaptation of the physical world or the 
demand of conscience that could unerringly disclose the exist- 
ence of God ; but there was agreement about the view that 
natural religion could claim equal right with revealed religion 
to make men theistic. The " proofs of the existence of 
God/* familiar to us in the pages of philosophies of religion, 
are supposed to emanate from human reason and to suffice 
for genuine faith. Revealed religions, on the other hand, 
have maintained that a God that is only inferentially known 
can never inspire confidence and command obedience. The 
knowledge of God must be direct : somewhere man must come 
face to face with Him if not in his visions and auditions, 
then in his moral and spiritual experiences. I have elsewhere 
called this belief " empiric faith, " meaning thereby that 
even the most intellectual of us would like to have something 
more direct than a rational knowledge of God. 140 

There is a good deal of truth, however, in what Bashdall 
says about the relation of reason and revelation. 141 Accord- 
ing to him, " the apprehension of religious truth does not 
depend upon some special kind of intuition ; it is not due to 
some special faculty superior to and different in kind from 
our ordinary intellectual activities, but to an exercise of the 
same intellectual faculties by which we attain to 'truth in other 
matters including, however, especially the wholly unique 

" The Philosophical Quarterly, II, pp. 200-81. 
HI B. RuhdaU, Phikxoptiy and Religion, Lect. V. 


faculty of immediately discerning values or pronouncing 
moral judgments." He adds that religious thinking is often 
implicit and unanalysed and the type of reasoning employed 
is generally probable and analogical ; besides, ultimate Reality 
can never be adequately and completely known and the accom- 
paniment of moral and other sentiments obscures the judg- 
mental character of religious experience. He concludes, how- 
ever, that "for purposes of life it is entirely reasonable to treat 
probabilities as certainties." While denying that the truth 
of God's existence can reasonably be accepted on the basis of 
an immediate judgment or intuition, because its genesis 
cannot be easily explained by the individual's environment 
and psychological antecedents, he yet admits that, in order 
to be true, a belief need not be arrived at by conscious logical 
reasoning and no prophetic revelation was ever so arrived at. 
Once revealed through a religious genius, the truths of theism 
are seen to be reasonable ; but the prophet himself did not 
reach them by articulated thinking, and the philosopher who 
dissects the prophet's revelations and discovers their antece- 
dents would never have arrived at them without the prophet's 
aid. While generally accepting Rashdall's view, I am of 
opinion that no religion can be wholly rationalised although 
the best ones are the most rational, and that no prophet can 
be an effective reformer unless he is convinced that he is 
doing something more than guessing divine intentions and 
inferring divine attributes. The soundest philosophical 
treatise on God lacks the power to create a religious com- 
munity, which even the most defective scripture possesses. 
No philosopher claims to have seen God as a prophet does. 
Many have knocked, but to few has the door of spiritual vision 
been opened; many have sought, but few have found it. The 
immortal words of the Ka^ha Upanisad 142 are as much true 
to-day as they were thousands of years ago 

n&yam atma pravacanena labhyo na medhayu na 
vahuna srutena 

Up., I. 2.22 (also Mutf. Up,, in. 2.3). 


yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyastasyaisa atma 
vivrnute tanuvft 

Not by instruction is the Atman attained 
Nor by insight nor by learning of books : 
Comprehended is He only by him whom He chooses. 
To him does the Atman reveal His form. 

So long, therefore, as we do not know the Jaw governing the 
vision of Absolute Truth, we have to admit that an element of 
Divine Grace operates in prophetic revelation, and that not 
only to the world at large but also to the prophets themselves 
the Divine selection of the vehicle of inspiration must remain 
a profound mystery. 143 

H3 Ranado points out that in the Upanisads different views of the nature of 
revelation are to be met with. In Br. AT. Up., II. 4.10, the Vodas and the Upani. 
gads as well as othqr branches of knowledge, such as history, mythology, etc., are 
regarded as having been breathed forth by the Divine Spirit. Banade takes this 
to mean " the inspirational activity of God, the philosophers to whom they are 
attributed having served merejy as instruments for the display of this activity." 
In I$a (10), Kena (1.8) and Chandogya (Vt.4.5) is to be met with " a second view 
which implies more or less a human participation in the transmission, if not in 
the composition of these revealed texts " (i.e. the Upanisads), which explains the 
veneration for teachers in thia sacred literature. There is again .a mythological ac- 
count of the origin of the Veclas, and in fact of all creation, according to which 
the God of Death coupled himself with Speech, a creation of his own, and produced 
thereby these, things. (Possibly, the necessity of preparation for receiving illumi- 
nation is indicated in Sv. Up. VI.21, where personal penance and divine grace are 
regarded as co-operative causes). See Banade, A Constructive Survey of Upani. 
lhadie Philosophy, pp. 842. 


A distinction can easily be drawn between beliefs that 
satisfy religious needs at different stages of culture and beliefs 
that attempt to harmonise different aspects of human ex- 
perience at the same time. The distinction between a higher 
and a lower religion is not that the latter makes no provision 
for the attitude of worship but that, unlike the former, it is 
incapable of advancing a rational justification of its ideas 
and activities and of a progressive evolution. Man does not 
come by his religion through conscious personal thinking 
or deliberate choice : he is born into a religion and imbibes 
the acts and attitudes prevalent in the community just as he 
assimilates the arts, culture and traditions of the group to 
which he belongs. Tmitativeness, suggestibility, sociality, 
fear of offending the social group (tempered by love and desire 
to please), indolence, lack of individual judgment, faith in 
collective wisdom, reverence of ancestors, mystic fear of novel 
experiments all conspire to make the primitive mind prone 
to self-effacement. It cannot be said that even the enlighten- 
ed mind is altogether free from their influences, nor perhaps 
is complete freedom possible or desirable if social solidarity is 
to be maintained. It is always a perplexing problem as to 
how much of social belief, habit and organisation is to be 
regarded as providing the rigid and stable framework of the 
society concerned and what part is to be considered as plastic 
and admitting of growth and modification ; but there is no 
doubt that in primitive and conservative groups and in ad- 
vanced and liberal societies the ratio of the two parts would 


be differently fixed. The danger of an ancient creed is the 
loss of pliancy : like an old tree, it accumulates dead tissues 
or, as in an old animal, there is a gradual sclerosis of its 
main arteries of thought and action. In a living body there 
is no doubt rhythmic action, but all repetition is attended 
by growth, complexity and increased vigour. The history of 
a living faith is similarly characterised by the evolution of 
complex thought, emotion, action and organisation. So long 
as life courses through them all, the power of adaptation to 
changing environment and of assimilating new materials is 
maintained at a steady level. The living religion reveals its 
plasticity not only by evolving new organisations suited to 
changing times and climes but also by furnishing scope for 
deeper appreciation in consonance with the developing 
intellect and the growing ethical sense of man. A living 
faith sloughs off useless creeds and outworn constitutions a? 
a part of its vital growth. The accumulation of dead matter 
that heavily handicaps necessary reform without any ap- 
preciable benefit in return is a danger to which every faith 
is subject. 

It is essential, therefore, that a religion should have 
adequate flexibility to meet new situations if it is not to 
degenerate into a tribal custom or a social habit. A living 
religion has the maximum amount of universality and the 
minimum amount of particularity about it. Elaborate 
details of social organisation, dogma and ritual are likely to 
prove a hindrance in the long run, whatever might be their 
temporary value in stabilising faith and marking off existing 
boundaries. The absence of a plenary authority to settle the 
details of dogma and ritual of the time tends to accumulate 
the successive faiths in the religious literature instead 
of retaining the most adequate forms and ejecting the Anti- 
quated ones out of the canon. The effect is that such a 
religion soon becomes a museum of mumijaified relics of 
ancient times of decaying cults and dead superstitions. 
Such is Hinduism ; such is Judaism ; such is every religion 
that attempts to retain and justify every bit of religious think- 
ing good, bad or indifferent, performed by the original 


seer and his successors in faith. When the eternal and the 
evanescent jostle with each other and claim equal authority, 
or when contradictory and hostile traditions find equal 
support in the same canonical literature, doubt, perplexity 
and indecision are bound to assail the adherents of a faith. 
Before the chronology and comparative validity of divergent 
dogmas are settled by well-established principles of historical 
criticism, religious tenets can at best be subjected 
to canons of interpretation as elaborated and applied 
by professional experts ; but even these may not be universally 
accepted and thus the desired uniformity of faith and prac- 
tice may not be secured. Besides, professional and sectarian 
interpretation has not always been noted for fairness or 
wisdom : its partiality for the traditional makes it a doubtful 
agent of spiritual progress and an uncertain guide in npvel 
situations. I have already mentioned that the needs of 
devotion and the needs of doctrinal consistency arc not 
identical; hence devotees of discredited gods are not small in 
number, specially when cultural or intellectual inadequacy 
renders an intimate acceptance of more advanced creeds im- 
possible. In fact, the tendency to adjustment at a lower 
level is so persistent in human nature that not only is there 
back-sliding an atavistic reversion to more primitive 
creeds and cults but also degeneration or fall from the 
pristine purity of an advanced faith. When Hindus and 
Jews worship idols they regress to an ancient form of their 
own religion; but when Christians and Musalmans venerate 
the relics of saints they manifestly yield to the innate craving 
of man for tangible vehicles of supernatural power, in com- 
plete defiance of the teachings of their faith. 

We shall tarry a little longer on the locus of adoration. 
It has been a moot question of Psychology whether there is 
any such thing as Keligious Instinct or whether Eeligion is 
an effect of the operation of other psychical factors. Anthro- 
pologists are similarly divided into two opposite camps some 
attempting to show that the idea of a supernatural power is 
not universal and others holding just the opposite view. 
Philosophers feel that the universality of belief or the con- 



sensus of opinion would show that the Creator stamped the 
human mind with an innate idea of His own existence to 
ensure that man would know his God instinctively and with- 
out social instruction or casual revelation. Similar is the 
belief of the Natural Eeligionists who think that the human 
reason does not stand in need of any special revelation to 
come to a knowledge of God. We shall not enter into any 
discussion of these vexed questions of Psychology, Anthro- 
pology and Philosophy of Eeligion. Our immediate purpose 
is to draw attention to the fact that the idea of the super- 
natural, howsoever derived, has an irresistible appeal for the 
human mind. Whether it was a vague sense of the 
numinous (Otto) or an animistic belief (Frazer) or an awe 
of dead ancestors (Spencer) that was at the root of religion 
it is difficult to say definitely. Philosophers have professed 
to find in the sense of religion a potential infinity in the finite 
mind a capacity to transcend the infirmities of that finitude 
from which man suffers in his conscious moments. It is not 
improbable that religion has a multiple origin in the human 
breast and that different types of religious consciousness 
theism, polytheism, pantheism owe their existence to diver- 
gent tendencies of the human mind and to different types 
of human experience. But the most curious fact of human 
history is that man is cured of one type of religion only to 
fall a victim to another and that even the atheist is not seldom 
found to adore ideals as passionately as a savage worships 
idols. Freud has called Religion the obsessional neurosis of 
humanity and expressed the hope that this illusion, as he 
styles Eeligion, will surely disappear in the future with the 
growth of culture as neurotic symptoms disappear with proper 
treatment. But if religion be the reaction of the human 
mind to certain recurrent events of the physical and 
mental worlds and to certain persistent needs of the human 
heart, which no other attitude or belief is likely to meet 
adequately, then the disappearance of religion is a very 
improbable contingency. Atheism can be won only with 
severe mental effort and retained with constant vigilance 
so persistent and imperious is the call of religious devotion 


to man with his developed aesthetic, intellectual and moral 
senses and his proneness to the pursuit of ideals. 

What object has not man fastened upon for devotion in 
his religious quest! " Seizable, half-seizable, and non- 
seizable ' ' objects have all been laid hold of for adoration and 
worship. As Hopkins remarks: 1 "Man has worshipped 
everything on earth, including himself, stones, hills, flowers, 
trees, streams, wells, ocean and animals. He has worship- 
ped everything he could think of beneath the earth, metals, 
caves, serpents, and underworld ghosts. Finally, he has 
worshipped everything between earth and heaven and every- 
thing in the heavens above, mist, wind, cloud, rainbow, 
stars, moon, sun, the sky itself, though only in part lias he 
worshipped the spirits of all these objects." That the list 
does not err on the side of exaggeration can be proved by re- 
ference to the Vcdic religion 2 where not only the special gods 
ruling the different departments of nature (e.g., Dyaus, sky, 
Agni, fire, Surya, Sun, Vata, wind, etc.) and even the distin- 
guishable aspects and functions of the Sc'ime divinity were sepa- 
rately worshipped (e.g., Surya, Mitra, Savitr, Pusan, Visnu, 
Vivasvant, all representing different functions of the Sun), 3 
but abstract agent gods (like Dhatr, Netr, VMvakarman), 
and abstract goddesses (like Sraddha, faith, Anumati, favour, 
Aramati, devotion, Nirrti, decease) were also invoked in 
worship and even the fee paid to the priest (Daksina) was 
deified. A fruitful source of multiplication of gods is sacred 
association : in Vedic religion things needed in rituals were 
themselves invoked as gods (Gravan, press-stone, Apas, 
water, Ghrta, clarified butter, Barhis, sacrificial litter, Yupa, 
sacrificial post, etc.), and even the implements of agricul- 
ture and war received similar divine honours (e.g., Plough, 

1 Max Mii Her, referred to by Hopkins, Or. and Ev. of Ret. t p. 13; see also 
Sodarblom, The Living God, p. 21. 

See Griswold, Rel of the Qig-Veda, pp. 81-S5. 

3 Keith' supposes that these different names of the same god might be due 
to local, tribal and family differences. See Rel. and Ph. of the Veda and Up., I> 
p. 92. 


Arrow, Car, etc.). 4 It seems as if man cannot help being 
religious : while in some cases the nature of the stimuli 
calls forth a religious reaction, in other cases man exercises 
his will to believe even in the absence of adequate stimuli. 
The environment determines the object on which faith 
fastens itself; a change in the environment would not 
kill faith but would simply alter the character of 
the object. 5 There is this much resemblance then between 
religion and neurosis that, being driven out of one 
support, each immediately clings to another. But in this 
respect religion also behaves like an instinct which, once 
being roused, persists with varied reaction to attain its object 
and accommodates itself within limits to the field of its 
operation. Although we have no means of ascertaining how 
in a sensitive and fertile brain the thought of taking up a 
religious attitude towards the world originally arose, we have 
sufficient knowledge of primitive minds now to assert that it 
arose independently at many centres of the world and that 
it did not owe its origin to priest-craft it was not a decep- 
tion that the first knave practised on the first fool he met. 
Tradition fixes the form, but something akin to inspiration 
or instinct determines the origin of religion and ensures its 
immediate extension to the social group. 

Many are impatient at the laborious ways in which 
anthropologists and missionaries collect data of the primitive 
religious life. But these have exactly the same value for 
understanding the features of a highly developed religion as 
the study of the primitive forms of animal life has for the 
understanding of the human organism. In spite of its great 
difference from the lower forms of animal existence the human 
body betrays its origin from lowly forms through its onto- 
genetic stages and its vestigial organs. In a similar fashion, 
almost all advanced religions contain elements that have 

4 The deification of cult implements (e.g., incense-burner) was not unknown in 
{tie-Aryan India. See Sir John Marshall, Mahenjo Dato and ike Into 
Mm, p. 69. 

* See Hopkins, Or. and Ev. of Ret., p. 88 f. 


come down from primitive forms of faith. Like the atavistic 
reversion of organic forms, there is in men's minds also a 
tendency to slide back to lower types of belief at critical 
moments. As in dreams, there is also sometimes an infantile 
regression in men's religious attitudes and acts, and the 
claims of rational behaviour and individual judgment are 
abandoned or suspended in favour of primitive disposition to 
submission to authority, obscurantism and immeaning 
ceremonies. A study of the primitive forms of faith is of 
value here in that it enables us to understand and 
explain the etiology of many of the crudities that arc to be 
found in advanced religions. Hinduism and Judaism, for 
instance, may not inaptly be compared to palimpsests whore 
changing conceptions have overlaid earlier creeds with fresh 
veneers at different periods of their history and yet not in such 
a way as to prevent the confusion of colours and perspectives. 
Similar survivals of primitive faith are to be found even in 
such prophetic religions as Christianity and Muhammadan- 
ism, not to speak of such reformed religions as Confucianism 
and Zoroastrianism. 6 Not only are there survivals, but in 
their process of expansion many of these religions have ab- 
sorbed primitive and discordant elements from their new 
converts. As examples may be cited Buddhism which was con- 
taminated by the Bon religion of Tibet, Judaism which was 
influenced by Canaanite culture, Zoroafitrianism which was 
infected by later Magian beliefs, 7 and Vedic religion which 
was mixed up with the indigenous cults of India. The con- 
tact of different cultures is inevitably followed by reciprocal 
give-and-take in ideas and beliefs; and while the noble 
elements are generally taken over consciously, the primitive 

* Even in present Christian and Mohammedan and Zoroastrian monotheism 
popular belief has remained impregnated with a very vital polytheism. Christian 
Greeks still believe in the Fates and the Nereids; the Kelts have not quite re* 
nonnced the old mythology of those now called fairies, brownies, dwarfs and 
banshees; magic rites, implying belief in spiritual powers, the evil eye, and 
other remnants of an older general faith, still survive in a so-called monotheistic 
religion. Hopkins, Of. and Ev. of Rel., p. 281. 

? See Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism, Lects. VT and VII; see also Dhalla, 
Zoroastrian Theology, p. 66!., 76 f. 


elements are unconsciously imbibed the process of absorp- 
tion possibly starting with the retention of some of the old 
beliefs by the new converts and ultimately ending with the 
general diffusion of these beliefs in the conquering creed. 
Much of living Christianity to-day at least in its outer 
aspects is a legacy of Mithraism, Manicheanism, Neo- 
platonism and Gnosticism, all of which Christianity supplant- 
ed and suppressed but not before it had incorporated some of 
their essential doctrines, rituals and festivals within itself. 

The danger of contamination is not limited only to 
religions with an open canon, but it threatens also those 
religions which believe in a closed canon. Exegesis, esoteri- 
cism and accommodativeness can always find meanings in 
the scriptures in accordance with persona], regional and con- 
temporary needs : as Hegel says, the scriptures have often 
been twisted like a nose of wax. Besides, when the preach- 
ing of ethical monotheism is not backed by the extension of 
requisite culture, the illiterate and backward part of the 
religious community, while conforming outwardly to the 
purer creed, develops inferior doctrines hi consonance \iith 
its own needs and spreads the contagion upward. It would 
be a mistake to think, for instance, that every Christian 
or Muhammadan of Africa is imbued with the ethical and 
religious ideas of the New Testament or the Qur'an. 8 As a 
matter of fact, twentieth-century Christianity is still debat- 
ing if the most vulnerable points of its faith are not duo to 
the Apostle of the Gentiles whose interpretation of the life 
and mission of Jesus was deeply coloured by Greek learning 
and acquaintance with the Mystery religions of the time, 
and was possibly influenced also by the needs of his pagan 

We have remarked above that the criterion of progressive 
faith is harmony of experience. Prophets of advanced 
religions have almost invariably been noted for their deep 
reflection on the problems of existence. Eetirement to a 
lonely place to meditate undisturbed is recorded not only of 

& See Westennarck, Pagan Survivals in -Mohammedan Civilisation. 


the Upanisadic seers and Buddha but also of Moses, Jesus 
and Muhammad. Such a soul in solitude, we may well 
believe, not only communed with God but also meditated on 
the problems of existence in relation to God. We have 
suggested already that what the prophet finds and what the 
philosopher establishes are not identical in their methods or 
contents ; for the prophetic search is for a life and the philo- 
sophic quest is for an intellectual principle. The prophet 
seeks to ennoble by integral vision and the philosopher to en- 
lighten by articulated thinking. It is not to be supposed that a 
prophet's vision of God is unnecessary to a philosopher or 
that a philosopher's intellectual analysis is useless to a 
prophet. There are problems that only prophetic insight 
can initiate although their implications are brought out by 
later philosophical analysis. Similarly, only certain types of 
vision are possible to a prophet after he has consciously 
acquired or unconsciously imbibed a certain amount of intel- 
lectual culture. 9 As Rufus M. Jones remarks, 10 "Faith of 
this creative sort, faith that is to be discovery, must be the 
product of experience, of discipline, of patience, of control, 
of training, of technique, of suffering, until the eye of the 
soul can see in the dark and can distinguish what is eternal 
from what is only the capricious wish of our feeble human 
desires." "It is a sign of weakness when the creative 
aspect drops out and faith becomes merely synonymous with 
believing some ' deposit ' transmitted from the past." An 
harmonious adjustment to things sensible and supersensible 
may come to certain natures spontaneously or with ease ; but 

9 Somewhat different is the view of Sodcrblom about the necessity of train- 
ing in Mysticism : 4< If we ask why the great mystics of every kind despise as- 
cetic training or have little confidence in it, the answer is easy. What they want 
i* no perfecting of human qualities and faculties. They do not believe in any 
human effort. God or the Divine or the inscrutable mystery of peace in heart or 
that mysterious existence which they call the Infinite or Nirvana or even the No- 
thing, is to them much too great to be conquered by means and methods invented 
by men " (The Living God, p. 27). The great mystics believe in insight, know- 
ledge, intuition, not in training, ascesis, just as the heroes of faith do not believe 
in works and exercises, but in trust. Ibid, p. 28. 

10 Pathways to the Reality of God, pp. 16, 17. 


ethical monotheism is a hard-won victory of the human mind 
and could only have been achieved with the help of philo- 
sophers of successive ages. By ' philosophers ' we 'do not 
mean only those who construed correctly the events of the 
physical and the mental world but also those who inter- 
preted aright the ethical needs of man and envisaged more 
adequately than before the realm of moral responsibilities and 
spiritual obligations. What the prophets conquer the philo- 
sophers consolidate, and this position then becomes the base 
of further prophetic operation. 11 

One of the most oft-quoted passages of the Hindu scrip- 
tures is, " The self is to be known (or heard), understood and 
meditated upon. ' ' 12 The orthodox commentary on the passage 
makes it to mean that the truth about the self is to be learnt 
first from the scriptures, then to be understood with the help of 
arguments favourable to the sacred literature, and then realis- 
ed in one's own life. Manu lays down that those who take 
the help of mere reasoning to the exclusion, neglect or con- 
demnation of the scriptures in any spiritual matter, should 
be driven out by good people. That the precaution is neces- 
sary will be evident from the fact that no positive religion, 
that believes in the inscrutable nature of God, has been able 
to dispense with all restrictions on theological reasoning. To 
know God fully is to be God, and no religion believes that 
man, limited as he is, is capable of understanding God fully. 

u As Bergson points out in his latest book, the morality and religion of 
human society are static while the xeligion of the innovators, animators or saints 
is dynamic, outflowing, creative. " The inertia of mankind has never given way 
except to the push of genius. The orly societies which have ever made any pro- 
gress have been those which have been wise enough to follow in the footsteps of 
some innovator. Always it has been the mystics who have led, and who muat 
continue to lead, all civilised groups. Kemembrance of what these souls have 
been, of what they have done, is deposited in the communal memory of Humanity. 
Each one ^ of these privileged souls marks a certain stage attained in the 
march of li'fe; each one manifests in some original form that love of Humanity 
which seems to mark the very essence of creative effort. This love flows outward 
in a torrent of vitality, spreads its contagious fire of enthusiasm, which is never 
completely extinguished, and which may always be rekindled." Advance, Dak Kdn. 
(25-0-88), quoting Literary Digest. See Bergson, The Two Source* of Morality 
and Religion (Eng. Tr.), pp. 28-27, 200-01', 229-81. 

MBr. Ar. Up., II. 4.5; Ch. Up., VIH. 7.1. 


In fact, lest man should, in his ignorance, presumption and 
folly, tear religious truths to pieces, even legitimate 
speculations on religious matters were forbidden at 
one time in many religions. Bationalists and free- 
thinkers have been subjected to the grossest persecu- 
tion in Christianity and Islam the two religions 
which believe not only in the infallibility of their 
scriptures but also in the impossibility of better revelations in 
future. The fate of the Mu'tazilites 13 comes readily to one's 
mind in this connection the freethinkers of Islam who, 
while accepting the existence of an eternal God, denied the 
eternity of the Quranic revelation and opposed the concept of 
a God whose will makes the Good good and who preordains 
every event of the physical and the moral world, leav- 
ing nothing to the initiative of man. In proportion 
as Rationalism has been kept at bay, Mysticism has 
been welcomed by almost every religion as confirm- 
ing the belief that human reason can never encom- 
pass the nature of God and that there is always loft over an 
element of incomprehensibility in Eeality an intellectual 
gap which leaves scope for the operation of the non-rational 
faculties of the human mind. The Mystics use the language 
of the prophets themselves they have a direct contact witli 
Eeality, their very being is flooded and enveloped by Divine 
Presence. As in the case of prophetic vision, so also in mys- 
tic experience, there is, as Jones remarks, 14 " an enrichment 

13 Mu'tazilite views : 

1. MAD is the author of his acts and not Allah ; therefore, ho is a second 

creator. In view of his personal responsibility man's punishment for 
ain would be severe. Grave wins disenfranchise a Musalman from 
the class of the Faithful and disentitle him from the intercession 
of Muhammad on the Day of Judgment, and Hell for him would be 

2. Things are not good or evil because God declares them to be so, but 

God makes the distinction because things aro in their own nature 
good or evil. 

3. God has ordered and prohibited and promised and menaced by non- 

eternal speech. There are no eternal qualities or decrees; hence the 
Quran is not eternal. See Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, p. 60 f. 

14 See R. M. Jones, Pathways to the Reality of God, Ch. II. The God of 
Mystical Experience (p. 84). 



of the individual mind, an increase of its range and depth, an 
enlarged outlook on life, an intensification of insight, a 
heightening of personality." No wonder, therefore, that the 
Mystics, in spite of their unconventional life and language, 
should not only be lightly let off but even treated with respect 
by the orthodox in all religions. For a similar reason ecstatic 
visions and fits of unconsciousness have been regarded as better 
methods of knowing God than logical thinking. The Sufis 
and the Yogins have always been treated with marked defer- 
ence by the Muslims and the Hindus respectively as persons 
who have approached nearest to God. The distinctive feature 
of the mystic, however, is that he develops only the 
devotional and personal side of religion to the mark- 
ed neglect of its practical and social side and is, 
therefore, ill suited to be the founder of a faith. 
Even if it be admitted that the great saints of 
Christendom have not always been quietistic in their attitude 
but have, as Bergson points out, accepted as the motto of 
their life 'Love, Creation, Action' (witness, for instance, the 
Friends of God), Eastern and Greek mystics have been gener- 
ally content with passive contemplation and detachment. 

It is difficult to assign an exact function to reason in any 
religion. Eeason sets a limit to human credulity; and 
while it tussles with the obscure and the implicit, it rejects 
outright the improbable and the contradictory. Eeligions 
have always resented this arrogance of individual and inexpert 
judgment in matters sanctioned by collective faith and estab- 
lished by spiritual insight. Still, there is no gainsaying the 
fact that to-day the range of such matters is being definitely 
restricted in all religions that are aspiring after universality. 
It does not matter in what way uncomfortable contents are 
being interpreted or explained away : the truth is that the ad- 
vance of knowledge in other directions has rendered many 
scriptural texts absolutely untenable and these are now being 
treated as loans or interpolations or allegories, if not actually 
ascribed to the limitations of the prophetic vision. Adopting 
the fundamental assumption that divine revelations can 
be neither unethical nor irrational, scriptural interpretation 


has sought to dissociate the eternal from the tem- 
poral factors and to reserve prophetic inspiration for the 
former alone. It has also, wherever necessary, sought to 
establish the purity of the prophet's character and purpose. 
Thus, Christian apologists are not wanting to justify the 
curse on ihe fig tree pronounced by Jesus and the death of the 
herd of two thousand swine into which Jesus had driven the 
devils. Similarly, the impropriety, laid at the door of 
Muhammad, of abrogating earlier revelations to suit changed 
circumstances and of contracting matrimonial alliances in 
excess of the number fixed by revelation has been sought to 
be put in a reasonable light by the followers of the 
Prophet. In a similar fashion, too, the portions of 
the religious books dealing with the amorous life of 
Krsna have been sought to be explained by educated Hindus 
as interpolations or allegories. Rational exegesis has simi- 
larly sought to discard, twist or interpret allegorically scrip- 
tural texts that are insupportable on scientific, speculative or 
ethical grounds. An illustrative example is furnished by the 
explanation of Vedic texts by Dayananda SarasvatT, the 
founder of the Arya Samaj, who sought to prove that, all 
through, the Vedas taught pure monotheism, correct scientific 
facts,, and unquestionable moral action. 

No religion has been entirely free from two types of 
dangers. The one is the danger of primitive thinking. Many 
of the ancient cults perished because there was no systematic 
attempt to develop them on rational lines. Most of them suc- 
cumbed before faiths which were more in consonance with the 
intellectual and ethical needs of the cultured mind. Gods 
that are impossible to pull up by rational methods are un- 
ceremoniously rejected by a civilised race. This fate over- 
took the Mediterranean religions of Egypt, Greece rfnd Home 
when reason showed the futility of unethical polytheism and 
crude theriolatry and when at the same time Semitic mono- 
theism offered a more satisfactory system of beliefs, Apart 
from the question of oppression and forced conversion, the 
spread of Islam in Zoroastrian Persia was partially due to its 
simple monotheistic creed, as opposed to the complex puri- 


ficatory practices and religious rituals of the later Iranian reli- 
gion. 15 A similar cause explains the rapid spread of Vaisna- 
vism in India, with its simple prescription of loving devotion 
and its freedom from ritualistic complications. At certain 
stages of culture the concrete and the spectacular have an 
irresistible appeal. It is only then that polytheism and 
idolatry, together with material offerings and gorgeous rituals, 
sway powerfully the minds of men. The lapses from purer 
forms of religion and worship are due to similar primitiveness 
of mentality. The lower sections of all religious communi- 
ties would be found to practise a form of faith very little re- 
moved from crude superstition, primitive magic and poly- 
theistic, if not idolatrous, beliefs. Amulets and charms still 
circulate, and visits to the tombs of saints are yet in vogue, 
in countries where ethical monotheism is the only socially 
recognised form of religion. 

The second danger conies from extreme rationalism, 
which, not being satisfied with removing the primitive crudi- 
ties and irrational excrescences of a religion, attacks the 
very vitals of the faith. Thus the pious admission of all reli- 
gions that God cannot be known in His true essence by the 
frail intellect of man may be exploited to establish the thesis 
that God is unknown and unknowable and that to such a mys- 
terious entity bordering on nothingness it is useless to offer 
worship (agnosticism). Or, it may be supposed that the 
physical and the moral world present to man such contradic- 
tory experiences that they can furnish no basis for establish- 
ing an unequivocal theism. Beauty and ugliness, adaptation 
and opposition, pleasure and pain, good and evil are so in- 
extricably mixed up together that without doing violence to 
one's rational faculty one cannot believe that this medley is 
due to a single good God. The probabilities are rather that 
either there is no god (atheism) or that a duality of gods with 
opposite moral qualities rules the world ^(ditheism, later 
Zoroastrianism), or that a plurality of powers rule different 
departments of the world without reference to one another 

is See ERE, vi. 151, art. GABARS, 


(polytheism) or that the single power tha't rules the worLl is 
limited either in power or in intelligence or in goodness or in 
all these combined (the theory of a finite God; J. S. Mill). 
Any of these theories would affect man's exclusive devotion to 
a single ethical God. It should not be forgotten that a philo- 
sopher treats religious experience in the same manner as any 
other experience and subjects it to the same critical 
examination of reason. A philosopher does not start with 
the certainty of God; and even when after laborious 
enquiry he becomes convinced that God exists, the 
ultimate position he reaches is that God is an hypothesis 
that is not unworkable. As opposed to the direct in- 
tuition and certain faith of a religious man, a philosopher's 
knowledge of God is always indirect God is at most a key 
that fits most satisfactorily the facts of experience, without 
excluding, however, the possibility of other explanations. 
Hence it is that philosophers have never succeeded in arguing 
people into devotion although they have often succeeded in 
adding the cogency of reasoned argument to the primary con- 
viction of a devotional mind. 

The effect of speculation on faith we shall illustrate from 
Indian religions as being the most instructive. Like all 
ancient religions, the Vedic religion also possessed a generous 
measure of polytheism. There were gods and goddesses 
ruling different departments of nature, whose personality was 
yet in a state of gristle 16 vague, shadowy figures not fully 
personified, with physical associations too oppressively pro- 
minent to allow a thorough anthropomorphism or effec- 
tive moralisation. 17 Such, for instance, were Agni (fire), 

i See Kqith, Rel. and Ph. of the Veda and Up. t I, p. 58 ; also Winternite, 
A History of Indian Literature, I (Eng. Tr.), p. 75 f. 

17 There is Dyaush-pitfi, tho Sky-father with Prithivi Mata, the Earth- 
mother; there are Vayu the Wind-spirit, Parjanya the Bain-god, Surya the Son- 
god, and other spirits of the sky such as Savita; there is the Dawn-goddess, 
Ushas. All these arc or were originally deified powers of nature: the people, 
though their imagination created them, have never fell any deep interest in them, 
and the priests who have taken them into their charge, though they treat them 
very courteously and eing to them elegant hymns full of figures of speech, have 
not been able to cover them with the flesh and blood of living personality. L. D. 
Barnett, Hindu Gods and Heroes, p. 18. 


Surya (the sun), Soma (the sacred beverage), Parjanya (the 
rain-cloud), Usas (the dawn), Sarasvatf (the sacred stream), 
Maruts (thunder-storm), Apas (waters) ' transparent gods/ 
as Bloomfield calls them, half-humanised, mostly resisting 
imagery 18 and lending themselves to further speculative treat- 
ment with advancing thought. 19 Speaking of Agni, for 
example, Bloomfield observes r 20 " In the hieratic (in distinc- 
tion from the popular) hymns of the Big- Veda there will be 
few cases in which Agni is not more or less directly connect- 
ed with the sacrifice. And it is well now to take this simple 
article, the sacrifice fire, and let it unfold its own story step 
by step. How it turns in the hands of these priestly poets 
into a person gifted with the thinly disguised qualities of fire; 
into a messenger mediating between men and gods; into an 
archpriest typical of holy rites; and finally into a god." The 
chances of personification were, however, considerably mini* 
mised by the tendency to create ' 'mythological synonyms," as 
Hillebrandt calls the gods belonging to the same department 
of nature but possessing "special physical basis, distinguish- 
ing characteristic and theophanic moment." Let us quote 
Griswold in this connection : 21 "The sun has many dis- 
tinguishable aspects and functions. 22 It is a bright orb 
(Surya), a light-giving friendly power of nature (Mitra), a 
great stimulator of life and activity (Savitar), a nourisher 
and protector of cattle, shepherding them and finding them 
when lost (P-ftsan), wide-striding from earth through mid-air 
to zenith, ' he of the three steps ' (Vimu), and the one who 

WMacdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 17. 

w Bloomfield, Rel of the Veda, pp. 85-89. See also Griswold, op. cit.> p. 81; 
EBB. xii. 605, art. VEDIC BELIGION. 

2 Bloomfield, The Religion of the Veda, p. 157. On the different characters 
of Agni reference may be made to Hopkins, Or. and Ev. of Rel, t pp. 300-01. See 
also Winternitz, op. cit., I, p. 08 f . 

*i Griswold, op. cif., pp. 83-4; also p. 277 (Savitar=the sun before rising). 
See also Winternitz, op. eft., I, p. 76, 

a An alternative view would be that each special Sun-god was, in origin, 
tho creation of a different Vedic tribe, all of these being finally brought together 
within the Big-Yedio pantheon as parallel forms of the sun-god* Griswold, op. cit , 
p. 270. 


at dawn shines in every direction (Vivasvant)** The func- 
tions of the god of lightning and of the god of storm are also 
similarly differentiated. Thus the lightning fighting to release 
the cows of the sky manifests itself as an impetuous warrior 
(Indra) ; it is the third or aerial form of fire dwelling in the 
clouds (Trita Iptt/a); 24 it is born of the heavenly waters 
04 paw Napat); it grows in the mother cloud and brings fire 
down from heaven to earth (Mdtartivari) ; it looks like a ser- 
pent in the lower atmosphere (A-hi Budhnya); it leaps down 
from the cloud mountains in a single streak of fire like a ' one- 
footed goat ' (Aja Ekapad) ; it strikes the earth, shatters trees 
and kills animals and men (Rudra) ; accompanied by thunder, 
wind and rain, it manifests itself in numerous lightning 
flashes (Mamts)." The process multiplied the gods of 
nature although it prevented their personification. Their 
connection with the three physical realms earth, air (or 
water), heaven was so persistent that both the Big- Veda 
(I. 139.11) and the Atharva-Veda (10. 9.12) divided the gods 
into three groups celestial, atmospheric and terrestrial, 
although gods belonging to more than one region are also 
mentioned in later classifications (e.g., Yaska's Nirukta, 
7. 5). 25 

But there were not only transparent deities of nature de- 
rived out of cosmic elements and local physical objects. Some 
of the gods had travelled down from pre-historic times from 

It is interesting to note that in Egyptian religion the sun was similarly 
worshipped in a multiplicity of forms. Thus Rfi as the sun sailing in his boat 
on the celestial ocej.n (also as Amon-Ra), Atmu or Turn as the setting sun, 
Khepera as the rising sun, Aten as the rays of the sun, Anher as the sceptred 
leader of heaven and Sopan as the cone of light before the rising sun repre- 
sented different forms of the sun (EKE. v. 248, art. EGYPTIAN KELIGION). 
Climatic conditions did not permit a similar multiplication of the gods of lightn- 
ing and storm in Egypt as in India. 

2* Trita (AV. vi. 113.1; xix. 56.4; HV. viii. 47.13; i. 187.1; and other 
places) and Traitana (HV. i. 158v3) seem to have been confounded together in the 
Veda, whereas originally they were quite distinct from each other. Trita was 
the name of a celebrated physician, and Traitana that of the conqueror of a 
giant or tyrant; the first belonged to the family of the S&mas, the latter to 
the Aptyas. In the Zend-Avesta the original form of the legend is better pre- 
served. Bang, Essays on the Religion of the Par sis, p. 278, See Bloomfield, 
Hymns of the Atharva-Veda, p. 521 f. 

Macdonell, Feel, Myth., p. 19. 


the common Aryan ancestors of the Indo-Europeans and of 
the Indo-Iranians. 26 There were perhaps also gods of yore 
whom younger gods had dethroned from the hearts of a 
later generation. 27 Most of these had become " translu- 
cent " in Vedic times, that is, their original physical associa- 
tion had grown dim in human memory. Some, shorn of 
their physical attributes, had dwindled into mere names; but 
others had undergone what Freud would call a secondary ela- 
boration and begun to assume a personal character. Thus 
Bhaga, Mitra, Aryaman, Vivasvat, Trita Aptya, Apam 

36 See Griswold, op. cit., Part A, Ch. I. 

27 The Veda conceives of the Xdityas as the descendants of a feminine 
Aditi who cuts a considerable figure as a very abstract female, suggesting the 
Meas of " freedom from fetters," " freedom from guilt, 11 " boundlessness " and 
" univeroe." She is finally identified in the Hindu mind with " earth." A 
father who might be responsible for the offspring of this interesting lady is 
never mentioned. We are struck first of all by the fact that Aditi the mother, 
a purely Hindu product, is obviously younger than her own BODS, the best of 
whom are at least as old as the Indo-Tr&nian period. I have, for my part, little 
doubt but that Aditi is a well-executed abstraction of some kind. In the past 
T have suggested that the word fiditya meant originally " of yore," and that 
this set of antique gods whose most substantial members are pre-historic were 
thus fitly named " gods of yore " or " gods of old." We may perhaps contrast 
with this the description of Indra as " later born " (anuj&vara) in a legend 
told in TaittirTya Brahmana (2.2.10). From the word fiditya, conceived as a metro- 
nymic, the feminine Aditi might be easily abstracted. Tf this is well taken, we 
must assume that the Veda had forgotten the meaning of aditya in the sense 
of " of yore." Bloomfield, The Religion of the Veda (1908), pp. 130-31. See Mac- 
ilonell, Vedis Mythology, pp. 17, 120 f Aditi ; also p. 43 f Adityas. TEe number of 
the Xdityas is indefinite as well as their names. Mitra, Varuna, Aryaman, Bhaga, 
Daks a, AmSa are mentioned in BV. 2.27.1. Other enumerations in the Big- 
VeSa, Atharvd-Vcda and the Brfthmanas include the names of Dhfttr, Indra, 
Vivasvat, Mftrtanda, Visnu, Siirya, Savitr. Agni is identified with Am&t and 
Riirya. Bloomfield has in mind Mitra, Arvaman, Bhaga, Tndra and Vivasvat, 
which names are found in the Avcsta also, though not all in the sense of a 
good spirit. Bhaga, in fact, belongs to the Tndo-European and not only to the 
Indo-Tranian. Oldenberg's identification of the Xdityas with the Amesha Spenta? 
in not generally accepted nowadays. 

It has been similarly suggested that " Tvastar is the more ancient deHy and 
that Savitar has fallen heir to some of the functions of Tvastar." Griswold, The 
Religion of Hie Rig-Veda, p. 276. 

Macdonell points out that a similar supplanting of Trita by Tndra is also 
* possible theory- Fed. Myth., pp. 66, C07. (See also Haug, Essays, etc., 
p. 275.) But he does not accept Roth and Whitney's theory that Indra absorbed 
the pre-eminence originally possessed by Varuna (V. M., p. 65). Barnett thinks 
that " amidst the maze of obscure legends about Indra there are three points 
which otand out with perfect clearness. They are, firstly, that Indra was a 
usurper; secondly, that the older gods fought hard but vainly to keep him from 


Napat, Puramdhi and some such pre-Vedic gods* 8 had be- 
come more or less colourless in the Vedas; but the twin 
ASvins, Indra, Varuna, Visnu 29 the first two certainly, and 
the third probably, pre-Vedic and the last Vedic- had almost 
shed their physical associations and acquired human quali- 
ties. Human form and equipment in keeping with their 
proper functions were freely ascribed to the latter class though 
definiteness was lacking in most cases. 30 In later Vedic 
literature symbols representing deities began to appear- 
possibly also images of Indra (BV. 4. 24.10), as Macdonell 
points out. 31 

But deified forces of nature in different degrees of perso- 
nification were not the only gods that the Vedic Aryans wor- 
shipped. Traces of animism and fetishism 32 are to be found 
in the worship of deified inanimate objects like 
hills and rivers, forests and plants (both large and 
small), implements and weapons. Totemism has not 
been definitely established in the Vcdas ; but some 
animals, that were associated with the gods or 
served as fetishes or symbols, were praised and invoked, and 

supreme divinity, and that in his struggle he killed his father; and thirdly, that 
he was identified with the warrior class, as opposed to the priestly order, or 
Brahmans." " Indra was originally a warrior king or chieftain who was deified, 
perhaps by the priestly tribe of the AAgirasas, who claim in some of the hymns 
to have aided him in his fight with Vritra, and that he thus rose to the first rank 
in the pantheon, gathering round himself a great cycle of heroic legend based 
upon those traditions, and only secondarily and by artificial invention becoming asso- 
ciated with the control of the rain and the daylight." Barnett, Hindu Gods and 
Heroes, pp. 33-84. 

28 Thus Gandharva who comes down from Indo-Iranian period w equally 
colourless in the Big-Veda-Macdonell, V. AT., p. 136. The whole of the Fourth 
Lecture in Mills* Our Own Religion in Ancient Persia should be read in this con- 
nection, esp. pp. 75-81. 

Macdonell, V.M ., p. 49 <A4vin), p. 27 (Varuna), p. 39 (Visnu), p. 66 
(Indra>. Also Griswold, Rel. of the Qigeeda, p. 285 (Vi?nu); EBB. xii. 608, 

so EBB. xii. 602-03. 

siMacdonell, V. M., p. 155; EBB. xiii. 610. See however Ragozin, Vedic 
India, p. 133. The image was probably a fetisli at firat (c/. Ark of the Covenant in 
Israel's battles). 

Macdonell, V. M., p. 147 f. Also Grfswold, op. eft., p 334, f.o. J. 



attained a semi-divine status; 33 the cow, for instance, had be- 
came aghnyO, or inviolable (EV. 8. 9. 15-16), except for enter- 
taining guests (S. Br. 3, 4. 1.2), and also a sacred animal 
(AV. 12. 4. 5) nay, even the gods were supposed to be her 
children (gojatah). 34 Similarly, the boar and the tortoise had, 
by thfe time of the later Samhitcas and the Brahmanas, become 
identified with the Creator Prajapati an identification that 
was to have far-reaching consequences in the history of Vais- 
navism at a later time when they came to be regarded as incar- 
nations of Visnu. Again, there were the tutelary deities of the 
household (Vastospati) and the field (Ksetrasya pati), spirits 
of air (Gandharvas) and water (Apsarases), deified and im- 
mortalised men (Rbhus), departed ancestors (Pitarah) with 
Yama at their head, ancient priests (Atharvan, Aiigirases) 

33 Speaking of pre- Aryan religion, Sir John Marshall observes : " We must 
guard against assuming that all the animals which served as charms or talismans 
at Mahenjo Baro were necessarily objects of cult. Nevertheless, it is safe, I be- 
lieve, to itifcr that the images of composite animals with human faces were in- 
tended for worship, and there is hardly room for doubt that like the Tree-facjd 
god and Tree- goddesses on the seals, the other major animals were also deified, 
namely, the unicorn, tiger, elephant, rhinoceros, bison, buffalo, bull (both humped 
and humpless), and the ghariyal. (A/ alien jo Daro and the Indus Civilisation, 
Part I, p. 71). See Keith, op. cit. t I, p. 61 f. Also the following from Mar- 
shall : " When we find, as we do, that most of the elemeate which make up this 
pre-historic religion so far as we can at present analyze them are perpetuated in 
later Hinduism, we are justified in inferring that much of the zoolatry which 
characterizes Hinduism and which is dcmonstrably non- Aryan, is also derived 
from the pro-historic age." Ibid, p. 73. 

For a summary of pre- Aryan religion, see the same book, pp. 76-77. " This 
religion of the Indus people was the lineal progenitor of Hinduism." " Many of 
the basic features of Hinduism arc not traceable to an Indo- Aryan source at all. 
They come into view, not in the earliest Yedic literature, which represents the 
more or less Indo- Aryan tradition, but either in the later Vedaa or in the still 
later Brahmanas, Upanishads, and Epics, when the Vedic Aryans had long since 
amalgamated svith the older races and absorbed some measure of their culture 
and teachings. Chief among such features are the cults of diva and the mother 
goddess, of Krishna and of the NSgias and Yaksas, the worship of animals find 
:rees and stones, phallism, yoga, SAktiem, and the doctrines of samsara (metem- 
psychosis) and lhakti (devotion to a personal god)." Ibi'd, p. 77. (Per contra see 
Keith, The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads, Vol. I, p. 64, 
which was written before the Mahenjo Daro excavations were widely known in 
their true significance.) 

For a distinction between the two cultures Aryan and pre- Aryan, see 
Marshall, op. cit., p. 110 f. 

l, F. AT., p. 151. 


and seers (Saptarsi) and heroes (Kutsa, etc.), who dwelt in 
hpaven to all of these honouf and worship were due. Then 
there were the wives of the gods some like IndranI, 
Varunani and Agnayi without much independent character, 
and others like Usas, SarasvatI, Vac, Pfthivi, Eftka, 
Sinivali, Puramdhi, etc., with some independent status of 
their own. Lastly, there were the demons and malevolent 
spirits * asuras, panis, raksases, dasas and dasyus, 36 
pteacas, 37 aratis and druhs 38 who, in tangible or intangible 
forms, inflict woes and injuries on men either spontaneously 
or at the instigation of other men, oppose the gods and, by 
disturbing thefr sacrifices or interfering with their AetiA 
bodies, prevent men from attaining their spiritual ends. 
These too had to be controlled or propitiated by proper in- 
cantations or offerings. 

Here then is as uncompromising a medley of gods, god- 
lings and demons as is to be found anywhere else a rather 
hopeless crowd not easily reducible to any kind of sys- 
tem. In fact, the system of worship had a tendency to intro- 
duce new gods and fresh complications. We must remember 
that in the Vedas we are not at the beginning of Brahmanic 
religion the primitive beliefs had already reached a certain 
philosophical position in the theory of gods and many myths 
were simply alluded to and their knowledge taken for granted. 
Nay, more : an elaborate system of sacrifice, which was con- 
ducted by a highly trained priesthood with scrupulous adher- 
ence to the details of the rituals and hedged in by minute 
prescriptions and prohibitions, had practically made the 
hymns liturgical in character although prayers unaccompanied 
by ceremonial acts were not entirely unknown. 39 Now, 

as See Macdonell, F.M., p. 1561. 

36 The corresponding Avestan ' dahyus ' means * peoples,' ' tribes ' and does 
not haw the hateful sense of the Vedic word. See Ragozin, Vedtc India, p. 113, 
f.n. 1. See Mills, Our Own Religion in Ancient Persia, p. 92. 

yt Jn the Tait. Sain. ( the three hostile groups of Asnras, Raksases, and 
Pi&cas are respectively opposed to the three classes of gods, men, and Pitrs. 

38 Iranian Dmj. For similar distinctions among the Iranian evil spirits, see 
Jackson, Zor. Stud., pp. 99-108. 

31 EBB. xu. 610 f. 


.^yelfy sacrifice involved the use of certain objects and imple- 
mehts and also certain attitudes of mind. The association of 
these with the sacrifices to the gods ended in their own deifi- 
.cation. The psychology of the transformation was perhaps 
this that any imperfect functioning on their part would make 
the entire sacrifice nugatory. In this way, the sacrificial post 
(vbnaspati, svaru, yupa) to which the victims were tied, the 
sacrificial grass (barhis) on which the gods descended to take 
the food-offerings, the doors leading to the sacrificial field 
(devlr dvarah), the sacrificial waters mixed with Soma 
(3pas) 9 the press-stone for crushing the soma-plant (gravan. 
adri), the sacrificial butter (ghrta) poured into Agni, " the 
mouth of the gods ," all received divine homage in the Rig- 
Veda, and in the Atharva-Veda the sacrificial iadles and 
even the remnants of the sacrifice (ucchista) (AV. 11. 7) were 
Assigned "divine power of the highest order." 40 Again, when 
the correct uttering of the mantras was regarded as essential 
for the successful termination of a sacrifice, a presiding genius 
of holy speech (Vac) was inevitable and she was at the time 
of the Brahmanas identified with the sacred stream, Sarasvati, 
on whose banks sacrifices were performed and mantras sup- 
posed to have been composed. 41 A more important personi- 
fication was the " Lord of Prayer " (Brhaspati or Brahmanas- 
patt), 42 who is regarded as favouring the man who offers 
prayer and scourging the hater of prayer. Barnett goes so far 
as to suggest that even Visnu was ' ' originally nothing more 
or less .than the embodied spirit of the sacrificial rites." 43 As 
is well known, these two personifications had important 
feoiisequences in the later history of Hinduism the one deve- 
loping into the Absolute (Brahman) of Pantheism and through 
it into Brahma, the first person of the Trinity, and the second 

40 Macdonell, V.M., pp. 154-55; Griswold, op. eft., pp. 84-85; Keith, op. cit. t 
XI, pp. 444-45. 

<i Bloomfield, op. cit., p. 243 (also p. 191); Macdonell, V.M., p. 87. See 
the author's Sarasvati the Goddess of Learning in IT. B. Pathak Commemoration 
Volume, p. 82 f. 

Macdonell, V.M., p. 108; Griswold, op. eft,, p. 170 f. 

Barnett, op. tit., p. 89. 


into the God of theism and later into the second person of 
the Trinity. 44 

But the same turn of thought that diagnosed the neces- 
sity of aid from the objects of rituals, correct speech and 
personified prayers and rites discovered also that there was 
an inner side to all external acts of the men who offered sacri- 
fices and of the gods who received them. All worship must 
proceed out of faith (Sraddka), piety and devotion (Aramati) 
and desire (Jfifama). 45 The gods must similarly assume an 
attitude of favour (Anumati) and bounty (Sunrta), and they 
should also be able to manifest anger (Manyu) and send death 
or destruction (Nirrti). In any serious undertaking both gods 
and men must practise ardour (Tapas). All things, again, 
must be done in proper time (Kalaf 6 to bear fruit, and health 
(Prana) and vigour (Asunlti) must be maintained. The needs 
of the sacrificing priests must not be forgotten by the rich 
patron in whose spiritual interest the Brahmana priests stirred 
from early dawn, and suitable sacrificial fee (Daksina) should 
be paid at the end of a work. In this way, all the essential 
conditions of a successful act of sacrifice were duly deified 
and adored. These abstract gods were the results of reflec- 
tion on the various aspects of the principal type of Vedic 
religion. It has been maintained not without reason that a 
hieratic religion, as the Big- Vedic religion undoubtedly is, 
does not contain all the elements of the popular religion, and 
that for these we must go to the Atharva-Veda which embo- 
dies in a generous measure the popular cults, superstitions 
and beliefs. The contents and the traditions also make it 
clear that different priestly families had predilections for 
different deities and that the same deities were also different- 
ly conceived by them. 

Rational speculation on these heterogeneous ele- 
ments led to diverse results. A belief in an un- 
redeemed plurality of gods is not favourable to a proper ap- 

"Ragozin, Vedic India, p. 262; Maodonell, V.M., pp. 101-02, 104. 
Macdon<ai, FJf., pp. 119-20. 
"Winfcraitz, op. eft., I, p. 160. 


preciation of the nature, functions and attributes of the super- 
sensible world with which man wishes to hold commerce. In 
fact, many polytheistic religions have been disfigured by the 
quarrels, jealousies and pettinesses of contending gods. The 
more complete the humanisation, the greater the risk of 
unsavoury myths recounting the passions and foibles of divine 
beings. It is not always an advantage to believe that the 
gods could come down on earth and hold social relations with 
men; for very often they have been pictured as being tempted 
by the beauties of the daughters of men and becoming the 
progenitors of ordinary human families not of kingly fami- 
lies alone, as in China and Japan. The hieratic character of 
the Vedic religion 47 and the imperfect personification of most 
of its gods prevented many of the common pitfalls of a poly- 
theistic faith in the early Indo- Aryan religious speculation. 
Compare, for instance, the Vedic and the Pkuranic beliefs 
about the character and activities of the gods and you will at 
once be convinced that it is far better to worship imperfectly 
humanised forces of nature than to believe in a plurality of 
humanised gods with limited power, intelligence and mora- 
lity. 48 A sacrificial religion which was often pragmatically 
interested in the gods as helpers in war and givers of plenty 
in peace had little incentive to look beyond the power, the 
grace and th@ bounteousness of the gods approached for favour. 
This will explain why most of the gods, personal or abstract, 
were invested with many similar attributes by the poets and 
worshippers. 49 Tutelary deities were few and were generally 
later developments most of the gods were cosmic and nation- 
ally or tribally worshipped. This also favoured development 

47 Keith draws attention to the danger of drawing too sharp a distinction 
between the priestly and the popular religion of Vedic times. See Religion and 
Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads, I, Ch. 4, 6 {p. 65 f.) 

48 Speaking of Indra, for instance, Macdoncll observes, " To the more in 
tense anthropomorphism of Indra's nature are doubtless due certain sensual and 
immoral traits which are at variance -with the moral perfection elsewhere attri- 
buted to him and essential to the character of the Vedic gods." Macdonell, Vedic 
Mythology, p. 65. 

49 For instance, in the Atharvaveda the gods hardly differ from one anpther 
AD.d all haye become demon-killers. See Winternitz, op. difi., I, p. 134. 


of speculation about their nature and a sublimation of their 

As in all religions, speculation was not always favourable 
to the Vedic gods. In a scripture primarily religious 
there cannot be nmch room for the views of scep- 
tics and agnostics : these can at best appear as opi- 
nions that are to be abjured by the believers and 
the orthodox. Still, there are stray passages to show 
that freethinkers were not absolutely wanting even in those 
olden days. 60 Unfortunately, an ancient tradition considered 
the gods to have been originally mortal and to Imve acquired 
immortality by the grace of Savitr or of Agni or by drinking 
Soma or by practising continence and austerity 51 a tradition 
which was exploited not only in the interest of later Absolu- 
tism but also for sceptical and agnostic purposes. There was 
also the belief that the gods had been originally few in number 
and that many of the gods were born later. This led some 
seers to ask if the ultimate principle of existence was not 
Nothing or Non-being 52 rather than Being and if the gods had 
not arisen from the non-existent a position that we find some- 
what modified in the view that chaos or primeval waters be- 
gan the process of creation. 53 It is this position that the 
CJmndogya Upanisad combated in its doctrine that it is sat 
(Being or the Existent) that existed originally sadeva 
saumyedamagra aslt. Where creation is ascribed to a Primal 
Unitary Being, a doubt is expressed if it was really the work 
of that Being and, if so, whether that Being was conscious of 
its creative activity. 54 Some seers, again, express surprise at 

50 Winternitz, op. ctt., I, p. 98. 
H Macdonell, V. M. t p. 17. 
HRV., 30.72.6; Sat.P.Br. VI.1.1. RV. 10.129. 

MMacdonell, V. M., pp. 13-14; AV, 10.7, 15. Sec Mnir, Original Sanskrit 
Texts, V, Seo. xxi (5). 

The entire Sukta runs thus (Bagozin, Vedic India, pp. 427-28) : 

" 1. Nor Alight nor Naught existed then; not the aerial space nor heaven's 

bright woof above. What coveY-e* all? Where rested all? Was it 

water, the profound abyss? 
2. Death waa not then, nor immortality; there was no difference of day 

and night. That One breathed breathless in Itself; and there was 

nothing other than It. 


the lowly origin of Agni out of two pieces of dry wood and at 
the priestly or divine functions ascribed to such a being. 
How can a living god spring out of dry wood? How does 
he grow without being suckled by his mother? How horrible 
is it that a son should devour his parents? But, as Eagozin 
remarks, 65 the sense of reverence prevented open scoffing or 
scepticism, and so the poet who asks the third question hastens 
to add : ' But I, a mortal, cannot judge a god; Agni is wise 
and knows.' So long as the reverential attitude persisted, 
the position that the worshipper took up was that the ques- 
tionable conduct of a god might be known but not imitated by 
a human being i 66 the divine standard was declared to be in- 
applicable to men. Fortunately, in Vedic times Indra was 
practically the only god who had occasional lapses from 
correct conduct, due primarily to his excessive drinking of 
Soma. No wonder, therefore, that sceptics should be found 
to disbelieve in the existence of a god whose moral behaviour 
was sometimes so much out of keeping with the general con- 
duct of the other Vedic gods (RV. 2. 12. 5). Scepticism that 
made a systematic negation of the gods as helpful aids to men 
was a position of later development; and, curiously enough, 

3. In the beginning there was darkness in darkness enfolded, all was 
undistinguishable water. Tlmt One, which lay in the empty space, 
wrapped in nothingness, was developed by the power of heat. 

4. Desire first arose in It that was the primal germ of mind, which 

poets, searching with their intellects, discovered in their hearts to be 
the bond between Being and Non-Being. 

5. The ray of light which stretched across these worlds; did it come from 

bolow or from above? Then seeds were sown and mighty forces 
arose, Nature beneath and Power and Will above. 

6. Who indeed knows? Who proclaimed it herewhence, whence this 

creation was produced? The gods were later than its production 
who then knows whence it sprang? 

He from whom this creation sprang, whether he made it or not, 
the All- Seer in the highest heaven, he knows it or he does not. 

For an interpretation of this alleged ignorance, see the commentary on 
Taittirla Brahmana, quoted by Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, V, 
See. xxi (5), p. 868. 

SRagozin, Vedic India, p. 160; see BY. X. 79.4. 
* See Hopkins, The Ethics of India, p. 18. 


it was ushered in by a theistic speculation which overreached 
itself. To this aspect of development we may now turn. 

The line of speculation that accepted the reality of the 
gods but found their number and nature unsatisfactory follow- 
ed the usual law of religious thinking in the human race. If 
anthropologists and missionaries have rightly reported the 
religious beliefs of the primitives, rcligitm takes in them the 
form either of animistic faith in an all-pervasive conscious- 
ness, or of a fctishistic, totemistic or euhemeristic belief in 
the existence of a number of separate spiritual entities, or of a 
belief in an All-Father. These three modes of primitive reli- 
gious thinking provide the germs of pantheism, polytheism 
and monotheism respectively. In Vcdic religion also specula- 
tion developed along all these three lines, with the result that 
the Brahmanism or Hinduism that subsequently arose out of 
Vedicism ended cither in an impersonal Brahman or in a 
Trinity (or multiplicity of gods) or in a Supreme God. In 
the Vedas themselves the theistic current was the strongest 
the spirit of reliance upon the help and mercy of 
the gods had not yet completely given way to the 
belief in the self-sufficiency of the individual soul or 
the inability of the gods to withstand the potency 
of religious rites and formulae. Later on the three 
factors necessary in religious worship man, material and 
deity came to receive different emphasis from different class- 
es of thinkers. When man came to be considered as the most 
important element and self-knowledge came to be synonymous 
with salvation, the gods became superfluous for spiritual 
blessing. Deprived of their boon-giving capacity, the gods 
retained a shadowy kind of existence in the Upanisads. 
Buddhism, and Jainism, and were portrayed as being them- 
selves in need of the saving knowledge and as approaching 
enlightened beings for spiritual illumination. 67 Indra was 
the foremost god according to the Upanisads because he \sas 
the first to gain self-knowledge at the feet of Prajapati 

B7Deu8flen, Philosophy of the Upanishad*, p. 173; U. 0. Bhattacharyjvi, 
The Vedic Gods in the Upanishafa, in Phil. Quart., Vol. I, No. 8, p. 202. Hce 
Winternitz, op. ctt., I, p. 201. 



(Chan. Up. 8. 7. 2) or because he was the first to know 
Brahman (Kena. Up. 4. 3). The mortality of the gods was 
reaffirmed and their heavens were declared to be transitory in 
character good enough as temporary places of reward for the 
ritualistically virtuous but non-existent to the spiritually wise. 
So far as reality was concerned, there was not much to choose 
between god and man, heaven and earth, for ultimately all 
were transient manifestations of a single impersonal spiritual 
principle, namely, Brahman. 68 

While the increasing emphasis upon self-knowledge was 
a new feature, the Vedic seers had themselves sown the seed 
of pantheism. We have already seen that Vedic worship in- 
cluded practically all types of beings gods; deified heroes, 
sages and ancestors; animals; plants; inanimate objects; and 
abstract entities. Imagination, backed by the will to believe, 
embraced representatives of each type; besides, the major gods 
themselves were intimately associated with cosmic forces and 
physical phenomena. This .almost verged on animism, which 
is the forerunner of a pantheistic view of the world. In due 
time, one of the theories propounded was that the entire uni- 
verse was derived out of a primeval Purusa sacrificed by the 
gods: 69 " Whatever is, is Purusa both what has been and 
what shall be." 60 A similar identification of the goddess 

ft It is interesting to note that in the theistic Bhagavadglta the Samkhy* 
Frakrti is identified with Mabat Brahma presumably because both were devoid 
of distinguishable characteristics and personal qualities (Bh. G. xiv. 3-4). But 
the respectful attitude towards the Upaaisadic Brahman is to be met with in 
the conception of Brahma-nirvana, the highest type of salvation for the wise 
(Bh.GK v. 24-26). (See also Bh. G. ii. 72; viii. 13; xiv. 26). The theistic attitude 
asserts itself in such a passage as xiv. 27. 

The Purusa Sukta (RV. X. 90) has generally been interpreted in a 
pantheistic sense by Western scholars. But the verses are not unequivocal in 
meaning. Thus the Purusa is said to extend ten ahgulas (fingers) beyond the 
earth (bh&mi); and though in one place the immortals are said to constitute 
three-fourths of him, yet in the later portion of the hymn Indra, Agni and Vayu 
are said to be. derived out of the one-fourth part that created the things of the 
earth. This permits the interpretation that even if All is God, God is not All, 
for He is something more. The question of the freedom of the. finite spirit which 
in its ethical aspect is relatively independent of God does not arise, in the context 
of the hymn, which is essentially a cosmogonic speculation. 

WMacdonell, Kerf. Myth., p. 16, 


Aditi " not only with all the gods, hut with men, all that has 
been and shall he born, air and heaven " was also made 
(EV. 1. 89. 10). Two other divinities, both ending in pati 
(which suffix Western scholars have regarded as a sign of 
later speculative development), natmely, Brahmanaspati and 
Prajapati, also helped pantheistic speculation, the former in 
the Upanisads and the latter in the Brahmanas. Already in 
the Big- Veda Prajapati had come to be regarded as 
embracing all things (BV. 10. 121. 8-10);* in the 
datapaths Brahmana he was regarded as all and 
everything (1. 3. 5. 10; 1. 6. 4. 2; 4. 5. 7. 2) 
Brahmanaspati too appropriated to himself the deeds and 
powers of all the gods. 63 He replaced the worship of the 
nature-gods as the holiness and power of Prayer (brahman) 
rose in popular estimation, till at hist he effected a transition 
from the semi-personal god of the Vedas to the impersonal 
Absolute of the Upanisads. In the Big- Veda 64 the question 
had been raised about the " wood " and the " tree " out of 
which the heaven and the earth had been made by ViSvakar- 
nuin and the Vi^vedevah (All-gods) and the standing place 
of the world-fashioner (Vitfvakarman) during the process of 
fixing the creation. The Taittirlya Brahmana 65 gave the 
reply : " Brahma was the wood, Brahma was that tree out 
of which they fashioned the heaven and the earth. Wise 
ones, with my mind 1 declare unto you, he took his stand on 
Brahma when he made fast the world." The Upani?ads took 
up the idea in right earnest and made Brahman the impal- 
pable all-pervasive 66 spiritual essence of the whole world. 
When with this was united the other Vedic idea that the Ulti- 
mate Principle of existence possessed, like some gods (#.{/. 
Agni, Indra), the inscrutable power (Maya) of taking diverse 

6i Macdonoll, V.M., p. 16. 

w Ibid, p. 5; see Winternitz, op. cit., I, p. 210 f. 
63Ragozin, op. cit. t p. 262; Macdonell, F.M., p. 101 f. 
W EV. X. 81.4; Bee Ragpzin, op. ctf., p. 416. 

65 Taiit. Br. ii. 8. 9. 63 see ERE. i. 196. 

66 The impalpable character is made out by cutting open a Nyagrodha 
(fig) seed which reveals no form of the future tree; and the all-pervasive 
character is indicated by comparison with salt which is present in every sample 
of the sea-water. (Ch. Up. 6.12; 6.13). 


forms, the coast was cleared for the Advaita Vedanta which 
Sarikara later made familiar. Speculative and mystical in- 
terests were adequately served; but the gods disappeared as 
the ultimate determiners of human destiny and became reduced 
to a class of transient manifestations of the Absolute in a 
much higher plane of existence than men, no doubt, but prac- 
tically useless 67 to the latter in the matter of attaining that 
sense of oneness with Brahman with which alone salvation 
came now to be identified. In the Yoga system, which is 
monotheistic in its views, God was retained for cosmic func- 
tions ; but so far as human salvation (kaivalya) 
was concerned He was regarded as one of the many 
means for the attainment of Samadhi which is 
essential for self-realisation by finite spirits. 68 It may, 
therefore, be fairly said that this line of speculation ended in 
an intellcctualistic monism where the affective needs of the 
heart love and devotion were ignored and the entire sacri- 
ficial cult, which represented the volitional aspect of worship, 
was abandoned. The inscrutable nature of the Absolute, 
which could bo only negatively described as possessing none of 
the attributes of worldly objects (neti ncti), promoted mystic 
contemplation; religion was superseded by philosophy 
and generally a mystic philosophy at that and the gods of the 
Vcdas fell from their pedestals of pristine glory. The emo- 
tional fervour of the Persian Sufis is lacking in the Upanisadic 
literature : the main tendency is to pander as little as possible 
to the sentimental aspect of human nature and to preach the 
message of a salvation that is beyond both good and evil, 
pleasure and pain. It was a great thing to have shown that 
a geographical heaven was a part of the transitory cosmos 
projected by the powers of the Absolute and to have equated 
salvation with the attainment of the highest plane of con- 
sciousness. But when man's self-realisation entailed a 
complete disappearance of the gods and eveaof ISvara, leaving 
no provision for the gratification of those emotional cravings 

WMaitri tip., 4. 6; Mu^. Op., 2. 1. 7. 
Mvarapragidhanfit v& (Yoga Sutra, i. 23). 


which a personal God can alone satisfy, the solution failed to 
appeal to the ordinary mind. Buddhism and Jainism dis- 
missed the Absolute altogether but retained the new cult of 
stoical ataraxia and intellectual salvation. As against all 
these, the popular mind reaffirmed its faith in a personal god 
in the great theistic religions of Vuisnavism and Saivism that 
almost overtook the three earlier intellectualistic movements. 

The speculative movement that emphasised the import- 
ance of the materials spelled equal disaster to the gods. 
A sacrifice involves the use of both material objects and 
mantras. While an insistence upon the former may lead to 
the belief that certain specific objects are indispensable for 
invoking certain deities (and even in Rig-Vedic times various 
favourite objects of different gods had begun to be specified), 
an insistence upon the latter may engender the notion that a 
correct procedure and an accurate pronunciation are essential 
for success in any religious undertaking. The danger pro- 
ceeding from the first became greater when image-worship 
made its appearance. 69 and material offerings and drviitt 
forms became closely associated by contiguous association. 
But for the fact that the extension of the Aryan settlement 
necessitated the use of local substitutes 70 the materials used 
in worship would luive been still more stereotyped. In the 
Vedic times, however, the general absence of. idols prevented 
the use of set material offerings; and becaiise the fire served 
as the uniform ' mouth of the gods,' 71 such products of the 
field, the forest and the flock as could be easily consumed by 
fire were used as sacrificial offerings. 

The case was different, however, with the mantras. 
Being linked easily with the primitive belief in the magical 

69 For image-worship in Vedic times, see Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, V, 
Sec. xxiii (3) : I>jd the Vodio Indians make images of their gods? (3rd edn., 
p. 453); B. C. Bhattacharyya, Indian Images, Part /, p. xxivf.; Griswold, op. cit., 
p. 337. 

70 Thus there was a break in the tradition about the Soma plant with the 
effect that its identity became unknown in course of time and JooaJ substitutes, 
nearly approximating the original plant in quality and appearance, were used. 
See Griswold, op. cit., p. 219; also Bagozin, op. ctft., p. 170, f.n. 2. 

n Griswold, op. ct't., p. 162. Fireless sacrifice on barhis (sacrificial grass) 
was also practised as in ancient Iran. Gria wold, op. ctt., p. 168. 


efficacy of formulae and incantations, these could soon be 
believed to have a power independent of the grace of the parti- 
cular gods approached by prayer. The distinction between 
religion and magic has been well put in the pithy saying 
11 Eeligion persuades the gods and magic compels them." 72 
That the distinction was on the whole well observed in the 
Rig- Veda would be evident from a comparison with the 
Atharva-Veda where magic spells abound and which therefore 
was long kept out of the canonical list of the Vedas (known 
therefore as Trayl or group of three Rk, Yajus and Saman). 
But spells are not absolutely unknown in the Rig- Veda, as 
when a person uses prayer magically to oust a rival or 
apprehends that a god would be lured away to the sacri- 
fice of another by the more efficacious prayer of that other 
(which implies that the god could not be present at even two 
places simultaneously). 73 Plants and waters are supposed to 
be able to cast out diseases and wash away sins. But, as 
Hopkins remarks, 74 much of the magic used was tinged with 
religious ideas and, in fact, the priests generally pre- 
ferred to clothe their own utterances in petitions to the 
gods direct. For such an early religion the absence of black 
magic is a remarkable phenomenon and it is a striking testi- 
mony to the speculative ability of the ancient Indo-Aryans 
and the purity of their faith. 

When, however, we reach the period of the Brahmanas 75 
we find that a change for the worse had taken place. The 
cessation of the practice of composing new hymns had invest- 
ed the ancient texts with an inviolable sanctity and a mystic 
significance. They are now supposed to exercise a coercive 
force on the gods. If the formalities of a religious ceremony 
have been faithfully fulfilled, its attendant fruits are bound to 

W Griswold, op. cit., p. 337. See S. K. Maitra, Religion and Magic, in the 
Journal of the Department of Letters (Calcutta University), Vol. XXVII. 

73 Hopkins, Ethics of India, p. 14; Bagozin, op. cit., p. 370; BV. X. 145; 
RV. IV. 25. 1. The Mimftnaft Philosophy used this as an argument against tht 
theory of gods as boon-givera. 

74 Hopkins, Ethics of India, pp. 14-15. 
7* See Winteraitz, op. 0jt. v I, p. 187 f. 


follow not because the gods would bo pleased to bestow them 
but because they cannot prevent their arrival. Let us quote 
a typical example given by Macdonell : 76 " The notion that 
the kindling of Agni exercised a magical influence on the sun- 
rise seems not to be entirely absent in the KV. Such ap- 
pears to be the meaning of the poet when he explains : ' Let 
as light Agni, that thy wondrous brand may shine in heaven' 
(5. 6.4). This notion is clearly stated in a Brahmana pas- 
sage r 77 'By sacrificing before sunrise he produces him (the 
sun), else he would not rise' (SB. 2. 3. 1.5; TS. 4. 7. 38.3)." 
This looks like a bold presumption; but when wo remember 
that not only among primitive races but even in modern 
times lusty sounds are produced by some Hindus to drive away 
the demon that is believed to be swallowing the BUD or the 
moon during an eclipse, we can sec its filicition to the magical 
belief that underlies such a religious act. Gradually 
a philosophy was propounded to show that mantras have an 
efficacy (akti) of their own, and an elaborate theory of sound 
(Sphotarada) was evolved to justify such a belief. 78 The 
Mimamsa philosophy which took up the task of supphirig 
the rules of Vedic interpretation exceeded its function when 
it proposed to show that the hymns were in a sense more 
powerful than the gods approached with their help, and that 
an immaculate performance oi Vedic rites could produce a 
meritorious result (apurva, adrsta) which was bound to bring 
in due time a favourable destiny (bhayya). 

What lowered the prestige of the gods still further 
was the increased emphasis laid on the self-suffi- 

"Macdoncll, F. M., p. 98. 

77 8BE. xii. 328. 

78 The first aim of sacrifice \van to present a simple thank-offering. Tin 
second aim was to nourish the gods with the essence of the offered food, and to 
strengthen them for their duty if maintaining the universe. The next idea was 
that of making these oblations the means of wresting boons from the invigorated 
and gratified deities, and so accomplishing some specific earthly object, such, for 
example, as the birth of a son. A still more ambitious object was that of employ- 
ing sacrifice as an instrument for the attainment of superhuman powers and oven 
exaltation to heaven (Monier Williams, Brahmanism and Hinduism, p. 22, quoted 
in art. HINDUISM, BBE. vi. 698); see Max Muller, Six Systems of Indian Phi- 
losophy, p. 402 f. 


ciency of the moral law the theory that Karman 
produced its fruits without reference to divine favour 
or disfavour. The heterodox systems of Buddhism 
and Jainism drew the logical conclusion of the Kar- 
man doctrine that gods were not necessary either for 
temporal benefits or for final blessings. Being tethered to 
the sacrificial system, Brahmanism could not get rid of the 
gods altogether ; but it preached the doctrine that in the act 
of sacrifice the mantras and the rites were more important 
than the gods. 79 It is indeed true that there was this religious 
development that the Mimamsa did not feel the necessity of 
defending the independent reality of many equally powerless 
gods : it often thought of godhood in the singular as 
the locus of worship or the person sacrificed unto 
(yajfia-purusa). But very little of the divine capacity was 
left to this Being when the theory was advanced that His only 
function was to bring about a dissolution of the world at 11 le 
end of each cycle of existence in order to give a temporary res- 
pite to souls suffering from continuous rebirths, without 
being able to mitigate a jot or tittle of their merit- 
ed doom. Tn fact, the relation between the law of 
Karman and God was very much like the relation 
between a moving train and a pointsman. Just as 
a train moves by the energy of its own fuel and the pointsman 
only shunts it on to this line or that without being uble to 
accelerate or retiird its speed, so also the condition of a soul 
at the beginning of a cycle or at the dissolution of its lost 
embodiment is determined by its own actions of a previous 
life 80 and God can only push a soul into its appropriate 
material form without having any capacity to modify the 
desert or the doom. In extreme speculation even this little 
initiative of God was taken away and Karman was supposed 

79 A similar evolution of thought led to M ant ray ana in decadent Buddhism 
of India and Java. 

M See Nyftya-Moftjari (Vizianagram Series), p. 273 f; also Yoga Sutra, ii. 18. 
Vide the author's paper on The Vicissitudes of the Karma Doctrine in Pandit 
Madan Mohan Malaviya Commemoration Volume, p. 491' f. 


to operate directly without the co-operating activity of God. 
It is evident that a God to whom prayers are useless can hardly 
retain His title to the veneration of man. As in Greek 
belief, an inexorable fate (adrsta) above the gods took the 
place of a God of grace. 81 No wonder, therefore, that the 
Mimamsakas, in spite of their faith in the sanctity of the 
Vedas, should come to be regarded as atheists. Unlike the 
followers of the path of knowledge (jnanamtirga) , these 
followers of the path of work (karmamarga) did not lose faith 
in a heaven to be won by the faultless performance of pres- 
cribed rites with appointed materials and mantras. But 
both classes agreed that the individual was a self-sufficient 
entity for purposes of salvation and that the ultimate mecins 
thereof was a true knowledge of the self and not merely a 
correct performance of sacrificial acts. A more radical 
position was taken up by the Samkhya system which 
disbelieved in the efficacy of religious acts, in the 
possibility of proving the existence of God and, there- 
fore, of concentrating attention on Him as a means to 
the Samddhi (mystic contemplation) that effects the 
release of the soul (Purusa) from its association with the 
body (Prakrti), and in the final absorption of the personal 
finite in the impersonal Absolute (Brahman). The Samkhya, 
therefore, rejected the Mimainsa, the Yoga, and the Vedanta 
solution of the problem of God in relation to man. We need 
only add the views of the materialists and the sceptics 
(Carvakas) who called the Vedas unmeaning jargon, the priest- 
ly symbols and acts mere disguises and devices to deceive 
fools, and sensual pleasure the highest blessing. It appears, 
therefore, that the majority verdict of Indian philosophers 
went against a belief in God as understood in the Semitic 
religions, namely, a unitary and ethical personality ruling 
the universe by moral law but capable of forgiving and willing 

81 See Bbartfhari's NUttatakam, 94-102. " Despite the handicap of an over- 
stressed religious ritual, which nearly blinded her to the great light of ethics, 
Tndia emerged with the belief that religion is a matter not of form but of mind 
and will, and that a good character is more essential than a good ritual. 1 ' Hopkins, 
Ethics of India, p. 286. 



to forgive the penitent sinner out of His abundant grace. 
What prevented godlessness in the bad sense of the term was 
that the Indian approach to the problem was spiritual and 
ethical, although it was not religious as understood above. 
There was no attempt to equate the spirit with the body 
(except in the small materialistic school) or to deny the 
validity of the moral law ; and, in the Vediiiita system of 
Safikara, the ultimate reality of Brahman, which was des- 
cribed as existence, consciousness and bliss (saccidananda- 
svarupam), was also acknowledged. 

It would be idle to deny the profound influence that 
these philosophical speculations had on the whole trend of 
Indian religious thought. It is not the fool in India that said in 
his heart that there was no God. Although there are family 
books in the Big- Veda and some families are supposed to have 
had a special liking for certain deities (e.g., the VaSisthas 
for Varuna), 82 there is no evidence to show that in India there 
was anything like the tribal monolatry of the Semitic groups 
of Western Asia 83 or the local monolatry of the Egyptian 
nomes. The speculative mind had to start with the whole 
assemblage of major and minor gods ; and when it did not 
take the road to monotheism, it reached either the impersonal 
Absolute or the impersonal Moral Order. When, however, 
a renewed interest in devotional religion manifested 
itself and the various Puranas were composed, a curi- 
ous intermixture of absolutistic, magico-ethical and 
theistic speculations took place. The Supreme God and 
Brahman were either identified or placed side by side, and 
demons were portrayed as being able to wrest from the un- 
willing hands of the gods any boon they desired, by dint of 
proper worship. 84 Sages had to be tempted with the aid of 
heavenly dancers (apsaras) lest their austerities should 

MGriswold, op. cit., p. 147; Keith, op. c*t. t pp. 91-92. 

83 Griswold, however, thinks that " the Bigvedic pantheon probably re- 
present* the gods of different Aryan tribes " and that " political federation was 
doubtless followed by religions federation, according to the usual custom in an- 
cient time*." Religion of the Rigveda, p. 843. 

M See Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 195, for a list of such hoons given by 


inevitably dethrone the existing authorities of heaven who 
had won their posts by similar efforts in the past. No grace 
or aid of God was necessary to attain these heavenly positions. 
As a matter of fact, the gods ruled for only one cosmic age to 
be replaced in the succeeding age by a fresh set. 85 Thus the 
mortality of the gods, which was an original belief of the 
Rig- Veda, returned in a new form. The Vedftnta thought that 
even the gods needed self-knowledge in order to be saved and 
that a finite soul attaining heaven might be regarded as being 
on the way to salvation (kramamukta) , which would be attain- 
ed when all things would be reduced to their causal condition 
(karanavastha) at the end of a cosmic cycle. 86 But this inter- 
mediate stage of heavenly residence was not indispensable 
and finite souls of the earth could excel the gods by attaining 
salvation direct, 87 Jainisra going so far as to suggest tl at 
only men could be saved and gods would have to be reborn 
as men to get their salvation after proper enlightenment. 
Muhammad claimed to have converted jinn as well as men 
and he lived nearly twelve hundred years after Mahavlra and 
Buddha. No wonder that on behalf of these two teachers it- 
should be similarly claimed that even the gods paid them 
homage for their spiritual wisdom. 

Let us now trace the fortune of the speculation that took 
the gods seriously and refused to reduce them to transient 
manifestations of an impersonal Absolute or helpless wheels 
of a moral machine. Its task was much more formidable, 
for the Vedic gods hardly formed a pantheon with well- 
defined duties and relations. There was no recognised head 
of. the groups of gods as was Zeus Pater in the Greek religion 

85 Speculations on this point are neither clear nor consistent. There is 
very tittle to suggest that there have been more than one Visnu or one diva. 
Possibly the rise of sectarian worship prevented the multiplication of the supreme 
God to rule over different cosmic ages. Visnu, for instance, was supposed to get 
into his sleep of involution (yoganidra) at the dissolution of one cosmic cycle and 
to wake up at the beginning of the next cycle. But Brahma was treated as subject 
tc. dissolution (Bh.G., xv, 16). See also Carpenter, Theism in Mediaeval India, 
pp. 268-69; p. 276 (M. Bh. xii. 348). 

Maitri Up., 4. 6. 

87 8e0 Hopkins, Ethics of India, p. 236, f.n. 11. 

188 DYAUS 

or Jupiter in the Eoman religion. Father Sky (Dyaus Pitar) 
as the god of heaven had generally as his counterpart Mother 
Earth (Prthivl Matar) j 88 and although the gods (devas) were 
regarded as their children, Dyaus does not appear to have 
been at any time more than a colourless head of the divine 
clan in India. In addition to an imperfect personi- 
fication, he and his consort are not always regarded 
as being ' ancient born ' for they are themselves 
spoken of as being begotten or created. 89 Besides, 
the paternity of the gods does not belong to them alone, 
for other parents are also ascribed to the gods collectively or 
individually in different places. 90 Again, being too nearly 
related to the gods of nature, they are not usually regarded 
as being also the parents of men and other creatures though 
that relation is not entirely absent. 91 Dyaus, therefore, 
proved an unpromising divine unity and was unceremoniously 
dropped in later speculations. But the idea that the gods 
were related by birth lived on, and, in spite of conflicting 
accounts of their origin out of one another, they were con- 
ceived to form something analogous to a human tribe or clan 
(and even to be divided into castes) and to be actuated by a 
common clan-spirit or group-mind. They were often invoked 
together in larger or smaller groups and they were also often 
collectively represented. 92 The unedifying spectacle of the 
gods being in conflict with one another, as depicted in the 
Puranas, is almost entirely absent in the Vedas. 93 This 
facilitated their collection in comprehensive groups with 

MGriswold, op. cii. t pp. 98-99. 

BV. I. 160. 4; V. 2. Gr is wold, op. cit., p. 10; Macdonell, F.M., pp. 12, 

W Macdonell, V. M., p. 14. 

91 Ibid, p. 15; p. 126 (BV. I. 150.2; 160.2; 185.1). 

* In BV. II. 3.4 the Vasus and the Adityas are supposed to fall outside the 
All-gods group. 

8 The gods on the whole are conceived as dwelling together in harmony 
and friendship. The only one who ever introduces a note of discord is the war- 
like and overbearing Indra. He once appears to have fought against the gods 
in general (4. 80. 8-5); he slew his own father, and shattered the. car of Dawn. 
He also seems to have threatened on one occasion to slay his faithful companions 
the Maruts. Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 18 (see Barnett, Hindu Gods and 
pp. 81-2). 


varying denotations. Thus in the later Vedic liteia- 
ture and the Brahmanas the earthly gods were compre- 
hensively called Vasus and had Agni as their leader, the 
atmospheric gods were called Eudras, having Indra at their 
head, and the heavenly gods got the name of Xdityas with 
Varuna as the chief representative. 94 The highest group 
comprehending all the gods received the appellation of 
Vigvedevah (All-gods). 95 

But while the idea of a confederacy of the gods materially 
helped the growth of monotheism, the speculative mind could 
not rest with this imperfect unification. Inadequate personi- 
fication and ill-defined functions obscured the boundaries of 
the gods. It was difficult under those circumstances to keep 
separate the deities whose principal functions had either a 
joint or an identical effect. 96 Fire and lightning, for instance, 
have similar illuminating functions : no wonder, therefore, 
if Agni and Indra should appear at first as a dual divinity 
and then regarded as identical, each appropriating in time 
the attributes of the other. 97 The loose association of func- 
tions and attributes with the gods made it possible to invest 
at least the major gods with all powers incidental to supreme 
divinity ; and when in this way their distinctiveness was lost, 
the different deities came to be regarded as different forms 
of one and the same ultimate principle. If the same Agni 
could be simultaneously present in many houses, in the 

other groupings, see Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 130 f. The 
groups tend to increase. See, for instance, Chan Up. 3, 6-10 and Bbagavadglta 
xi. 6 and 22. 

tt Sometimes these are distinguished from the Vasus and the Adityas (BV. 
2.3.4). Bh. G. xi. 22 follows this tradition of regarding tho VWvedevalj as a 
circumscribed group. 

w There is the work of rain-giving, in which, to a greater or less degree, 
Par;anya, Varuna, Indra, Dyaus, Budra and the Maruts all participate. As 
gods of the lightning there are Indra, Trita Aptya, and so forth; as physician 
gods Budra and the Maruts, Varuna, Soma, ASvins, Vata and the Waters; as 
demon-slayers Agni and Indra and in general the gods of light; and as gods of 
song Brihaspati, the Maruts and the Afigirasas. Griswold, The Religion of the 
Qigveda, p. 104. 

KMacdonell, V. M. t p. 16. 


lightning, and in the sun, and if Indra could multiply him- 
self through his occult powers, why should it be impossible 
for a single Power to manifest itself in the different forces 
of nature? Both pantheistic and monotheistic speculations 
started from this line of thought. Passages like the follow- 
ing are not isolated : " The one Being sages speak of in many 
ways ; they call it Agni, Yama, Matartevan " (BV. 1.164.46). 
The same idea of unity was sought to be conveyed by depict- 
ing the mutual dependence of the deities. In fact, the con- 
cept of a unitary God was more easily reached than an agreed 
name possibly there were champions for different deities, 
as is suggested by BV. 2. I, 98 where an entire hymn is 
devoted to show that the different gods were in reality nothing 
but Agni, and by other isolated passages where similar claims 
are advanced for Surya (BV. 10. 170.4), Varuna (BV. 8. 
41.1-7) and Indra (BV. 8. 87.2)." The use of terms like ' the 
One/ ' the One unborn,' ' the One unknown,' points to the 
adoption of an indefinite god as the ultimate unity ; but it 
served the purpose of monism more than that of monotheism. 100 
Hence the framing of a new name became imperative. This 
concrete god would correspond to the All-Father idea of 
primitive minds. 

Now, an examination of religious speculations shows 
that God as Power appeals first to the human mind. A god 
is what one is afraid to displease. It is also a being whose 
aid a person seeks in order to overcome some evil or attain 
some good. Perhaps the second character is apprehended 
and appreciated earlier : we want to have the gods on our 
side in order to succeed in our undertakings and to defeat our 
enemies- Yahweh was the Lord of hosts in Israel ; so also 
was Indra to the Vedic Aryans. But power manifests it-sol f 

W BV. II. 1 looks like a reply to BY. VIII. 29.2 where the hymn to the 
Vi6vedevab distinguishes the different gods; see Kagozin, op. cit., p. 434. 

"Macdoneli, V. M., p. 118. 

100 See in this connection Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, V, Sec. xxi. (19) 
aa to whether polytheism or monotheism was the earliest form of the. Aryan 
religion (3rd edition, p. 412). 


most strikingly in acts of creation, whether of the world or of 
gods and men. A world ruled by regularity and law indicates 
the existence of a single being who not only wields the power 
to bring it into being but also the will and the intelligence to 
regulate its working. Such a conscious fashioner of the 
world the Vedic Indians found in Prajapati a name whioh 
was coined to suit the function ascribed to it, namely, the 
lordship of all creatures. Prajapati quickly replaced the pro- 
Vedic Tvastr and the colourless deities Dhatr (supporter), 
Vidhatr (Disposer) and Visvakarman (All-creating), wlio 
were personifications of the architectonic and controlling 
activities of the Creator. 101 After being tentatively associated 
with Savitr and Soma in an adjectival form and standing I'or 
a distinct deity in a few places, the name is used in the magni- 
ficent hymn of EV. 10. 121 in the sense of the Supreme God 
who brought everything into being and is therefore rightly 
termed Hiranyagarbha, the germ of gold. 102 This became 
the established meaning of the term commonly in the later 
Vedic literature and regularly in the Brahmanas. 19 * 
Prajapati was not a nature-god and so it was easy to invest him 
with supreme wisdom and ethical qualities : it is with this 
enhanced connotation that he appears in the Upanisads as 
instructing Indra and Virocana. But his principal function 
as <c the god of offspring " and of creation in general was 
never forgotten, and he became latterly identified with 
Brahma, the first person of the Hindu Trinity, who is 
supposed to be the creator of the world. 104 Brahma, ia fact, 
absorbed also the intellectual function of Prajapati and 
became the revealer of the Vedas. In later Hinduism he also 
appropriated the names of Dluatr, Vidhatr, Hiranyagarbha 
and such other deities who were closely related to Prajapati 
in his functional aspect. Being associated, on the 

101 Macdonell, V.M., p. 116; also pp. 115, 118; Barnett, op. eft., p. 48 f.; 
Winternitz, op. ctt., I, p. 923 f. 

102 Macdonell, V. M., p. 118. 
lOSJofd, p. 118. 

104 Ibid, p. 119 (AAvalftyana Qrhya Sutra, 3, 4, etc.). 


one hand, with the sacrificial god Prajapati of the Brahmanas 
and, on the other, with the philosophical unity Brahman of 
the Upanisads, 105 Brahma had a fair chance of being raised 
to the supremest position. 106 What went against him was 
the want of popular enthusiasm for a God who made no appeal 
to the emotional life of man and remained mostly a god o{ the 
sacrificial class. So he retained his position as the advisor 
of the gods in difficult situations but retired from the active 
government of the world after peopling it with diverse 
creatures, including the gods. 107 His unfitness for the supreme 
position was proved in popular opinion by a variety of causes. 
Although called Svayambhu (self-born), he carried with him 
the Vedic tradition of the waters being the source of all things 
and of a primeval " golden egg or germ " out of which .all 
things arose. 108 So, in later times, he was represented as 
being born in the lotus issuing out of the navel of the primeval 
Purusa resting on the waters (Narayana or Visnu) 109 or as 
issuing out of the primeval egg grown out of the seed of the 
Primal Being thrown into the primeval waters. 110 Secondly, 
the creation of the world by him was not always non-sexually 
conceived and an obscure Vedic text concerning the incest of 
a father with his daughter and the birth of Vastospati out of 
that incest was foisted on him in his character as Prajapati 

105 The Upanisads recognised a Saguna and a Nirguna Brahman but did not 
give the Saguna Brahman or I6vara the name of Brahma. 

106 Carpenter, Theism in Mediaeval India, pp. 10, 170; see also pp. 71, 73. 
Mafiju6r! was conceived to possess functions similar to those of Brahma who*e 
name he came to bear. And Avalokitesvara too had some of his physical properties. 

107 Titles mean something historically, but they are no gauge of belief or 
of the estimation in which a god is really held Biahman's titles are ampli- 
fied more for grandiloquence than for added meaning. -Hopkins, Epic Mytho- 
logy, p. 192. See also p. 193 ( 134, Brahman as Preserver) where the continuing 
activities of Brahma are described. 

108 See Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 189. Similar cosmic eggs were believed 
in by the Phoenicians, the Babylonians, and the Iranians. See Casartelli, The 
Philosophy of the Mazdayasnian Religion under the Sassanids, p. 107. 

109 For this transformation of the independent Brahman into an agent of 
Visnu, see Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 197. For a similar daivite transforma- 
tion, see p. 198. 

110 For Brahmana parallels, see Wintemitz, op. cit., I, p. 223. 


and he was represented as begetting Mann, the progenitor of 
the human race, on his own mind-born daughter Satarupa. :u 
The rational and moral instincts of the race rejected a god who 
was neither causally first 118 nor ethically ideal. Besides, there 
was some incongruity between a God as Power and a God 
who carried the symbols of Brahmanic detachment 
and intellectual preoccupation. His position could be 
maintained only so long as the old tradition of ascetic 
fervour (tapas) as the cause of creation did not completely 
die out. 113 When the idea of Brahnw, Visnu and Siva as 
a trinity was well established, possibly there disappeared also 
the religious motive for worshipping Brahma. " Men wor- 
ship Siva the destroyer because they fear him ; Visnu the 
Preserver because they hope from him ; but who worships 
Brahma the Creator? His work is done." 114 As Hopkins 
remarks, " Brahman comes into the group as a matter of 
form, because it was impossible for the sectarian worshipper 
to deny the old orthodox Creator, who had been chief of the 
pantheon, the old Father of gods and men, since the end of 
the Vedic age." 115 His decline from power is traceable in 
the Mahablmrata and the Ramayana ; 116 by the end of the 
sixth century of the Christian era the small sect which consi- 
dered him to be the Supreme God died out, and to-day in the 
whole of India there are very few temples dedicated to him. 117 

in For the offspring of Brahma (or Prajapati), see Hopkins, Epic Mytho- 
Ingy, p. 189 f. 

in The egg-theory is repudiated in a speech ascribed to the Wind-god : 
" How can he who is unborn be born of an egg? The egg means space; hence 
only was the Great Father born. There is no (cosmic) egg; but Brahman is; be 
is tho king, the enlivener (creator) of the world (M.Bh. XIII, 154, 19). -Hopkins, 
Epic Mythology, p. 191. 

U3 Cf. the hymn of Aghamar$ana, in RV. X. 190. 

11* Carpenter (quoting Hopkins), op. cit. t p. 182. 

iw Hopkins, Oft. and Ev. of Hel t p. 304; also Epic Mythology, p. 189 f. 

HBBarnett, op. cit., p. 111. 

iw There are temples at Pushkar (Rajputana), Dudahi (Bundelkhand), 
Khed Brahma (Mahikantha, Idar State, Gujarat),. Kudakkal (Malabar), Chebrolu 
(Kistna district), Kftlahasti (South Arcot), Mitranandapuram (near Trivandrum). 



But it is not power as such that the human mind seeks 
in God. A, god that does not embody the ethical ideal has 
little chance of survival in human worship, especially when 
man learns to control the forces of nature himself. We are 
overawed by the dynamically sublime, but we require some- 
thing more in God to make Him the object of our prayer and 
devotion. If power had been the primary qualification of 
godhead, Agni, who consumed everything, or Indra, whose 
matchless valour was so often extolled in the Vedas, or Soma, 
who invigorated men and inspired their muse and even made 
the gods immortal, would have attained the supreme position 
in Hindu religion. But although the Vedic seers approached 
these gods oftenest with their hymns, the future belonged 
to gods of a different type gods that did not engage the hancl 
or employ the head so much as attracted the heart of man. 
The Brabmanas had extolled sacrifice and prescribed rituals. 
.The Aranyakas had alfcgorised them. The Upanisads had 
rejected them after recording the faint protests of those who 
were against the mere pursuit of self-knowledge to the total 
abandonment of works. A time, however, soon came when the 
Upanisadic identif nation of Atman (the self) with Brahman 
was challenged and the Vodic relation of man and God was 
restored with a deeper spiritual significance and ethical 

The way for this consummation was being prepared in 
the Vedic hymnfi themselves. Max Mill lor 's theory of Vedic 
henotheism has been discussed threadbare in subsequent 
literature on Vedic religion and not Always in favour of that 
theory. 118 Speaking of the theory, Macdonell observes : 
11 Henotheism is an appearance rather than a reality, an 
appearance produced by the indefinitoness due to undeveloped 
anthropomorphism, by the lack of any Vedic god occupying 
the position of a Zeus as the constant head of the pantheon, 
by the natural tendency of the priest or singer in extolling a 
particular gcd to exaggerate his greatness and to ignore othw 
gods, and by the growing belief in the unity of the gods, 

us Macdonell, V. M. t p. 16. 


each of whom might be regarded as a type of the divine. 
Henotheism might, however, be justified as a term to express 
the tendency of the KV. towards a kind of monotheism." 
The gods were distinguished from other types of beings by 
the possession, in generous measure, of " the qualities of 
power, sovereignty, wisdom, beneficence and beauty." 119 
They were also regarded as ' truthful ' and ' not deceitful,* 
They could be relied upon to keep their covenant of grace and 
gift, provided men, on their part, fulfilled their duties of 
sacrifice and prayer. Further, in relation to themselves, the 
gods act in unison. No invocation of groups of divinities 
would have been possible, had it not been prompted uy the 
belief that they possessed perfect understanding among them- 
selves about their proper functions and were prepared to act 
harmoniously together for the benefit of the worshipper. 120 
In this way the gods are related to the Eternal Order (rta) 
which rules not only the physical but also the moral world. 121 
Speaking of this aspect of divinity, Griswold remarks, 122 
" All the gods are alike in either determining, or expressing 
or guarding some aspect or other of rita, Which may be tran- 
slated as ' the course of things,' ' nature,' or ' cosmic urdcr.' 
Through the great conception of Rita the multiplicity of 
nature is reduced to a unity and the multiplicity of the gods 
(corresponding to the multiplicity of nature) is seen to leflect 
a single will, because all are ' labourers together ' in main- 
taining a single all-comprehensive cosmic order. Thus the 

1W Griswold, op. cit., p. 109. 

ISO See Keith, op. cit.. p. 8C f. 

121 The Vedic word rita (connected with Greek 'apriY and Latin tatu*) 
means fit, orderly, good, and as a noun ritam is the right order of the universe 1 , of 
the sacrifice, and of ethical conduct, the true way as opposed to its negative, 
anritam, that is, false or untrue. It connotes a certain " harmony " (which hi 
etymologically from the same root) between ideal and practice. In a cosmic sense, 
it designates the harmony of the world, the regularity of nature, as evinced by 
the orderly procession of celestial bodies, of seasons, and of their earthly repre- 
sentatives in the seasonal sacrifices and the regular conduct of men, as opposed 
to irregular conduct. It is not, like the Chinese Tao, a cosmic power, but it is 
the order instituted by the Wise Spirit as regulator of the world. Hopkins, Ethics 
of India, pp. 2-3 (see Keith, op. eft., I, pp. 83-84). 

1M Griswold, op. cit., p. 108; Macdonell, V. M, p. 26. 


tendency of Bigvedic religion was toward some form of unity, 
whether monotheistic or pantheistic. " 

In fact, we come in view now of the second witness to 
the existence of God, namely^ man's moral consciousness and 
his yearning for a spirit that responds to the call of devot : on 
and love. The unity that the intellect seeks and establishes 
is found to be also the power that makes for righteousness 
and social concord. The henotheistic attitude achieved tlirrr 
things : (i) it established an exclusive affection for one deity 
at a time ; (ii) it raised that gcd to the position of the sole 
creator and preserver of the world ; (Hi) it invested that god 
with a fixed will and an ethical purpose in the government of 
the physical and moral worlds. It would not be true to 
say that the ethical character of the gods was a late achieve- 
ment of Vedic speculation. What really took place was that 
the ethical quality, which was originally associated with one 
deity or group of deities, became the common properly of all 
the gods through identification or association with the ethical 
divinity. 123 This could take place only when anthropo- 
morphism had sufficiently covered up the physical origin of 
most of the Vedic gods and facilitated the transference of the 
ethical qualities of Varuna and the Adityas to these deities. 
Western scholars have deplored the eclipse of Varuna, *' the 
Indian Yahweh," in post- Vedic literature. It is true that 
it would have been an advantage had the selection of Varuna 
prevented the war of sects in later times. But an explana- 
tion of the supersession of Varuna may possibly be found in 
the fact that monotheism did not come by way of 
monolatry in India, as it did in Israel, and each of the 
major gods was conceived in course of time to be the guardian 
of the moral order (rtasya gopa). m This obviated the 
necessity of a separate ethical deity who would have 
assumed the position of a * special god ' of morality and 
affected the independence of the other gods. The ethical 

)*3 Hopkins, Ethics of India, p 13. 

u* Aditi is several times spoken of as protecting from distress (arpfea*), and 
she is said to grant complete welfare or safety (10, 100; 1, 94.15), but she is more 
frequently invoked to release from guilt or sin. Thus Varuna (1, 94.15), Agni 

VABU^A 197 

Varuna vitalised the other gods by association and identifi- 
cation and disappeared from view in the process ; but a realm 
where he could reign as a special deity of nature was found 
for him in the waters with which, in fact, he had Vedic 
associations. The other factor that contributed to the down- 
fall of Varuna, as indeed of all the gods, was the development 
of the idea of an independent and impersonal Moral Order 
which had once been regarded as ' ' the First-born ' ' of the 
divine fervouu (BV. 10. 190). Varuna, again, was the 
personification of the constancy and regularity that keep the 
physical and the moral order going. As he had not gathered 
round him any considerable myth of having bestowed gifts 
on worshippers in the past, the frankly hedonistic temper 
had no need of him, and later generations did not see the 
utility or logic of approaching him with frequent rites on the 
principle of reciprocal service. All these causes conspired 
to diminish the importance of the ethical Varuna ; but it 
would be untrue to say that the moral standard of the com- 
munity was materially lowered thereby. The interest of the 
succeeding ages was in sacrifice and self-knowledge the 
one was probably accentuated by contact with indigenous 
belief in magic and the other as a reaction therefrom. But 
morality lived on even when interest in Varuna had waned, 
and an independent investigation into the conditions of moral 
discipline was undertaken in the different philosophies, and 
concrete rules of life laid down in the different codes of social 
and individual ethics (Grhya-sutras and Dharma-Sastras). 

But the Vedic Varuna did not really die he )ose 
phoenix-like out of his own ashes in more attractive divine 

(4, 12.4), and Savitr (5, 82.6), are besought to free from guilt against Aditi. Aditi, 
Mitra and Varuna arc implored to forgive sin (2, 27.14), Aditi and Aryaman, to 
loosen (the bonds of) sin (7, 93.7). Worshippers beseech Aditi to make them 
sinless (1, 162.22); praying that by fulfilling her ordinances they may be without 
si), towards Varuna (7, 87.7) and that evildoers may be cut off from Aditi (10, 87.18). 
Hence though other gods, Agni (3, 54.10), Savitr (4, 54.3), Sun, Dawn, Heaven 
and Earth (10,35.2-3) are petitioned to pardon sin, the notion of releasing from 
it is ruuch more closely connected with Aditi and her son Varuna whose fetters 
that bind sinners are characteristic, and who unties sin like a rope and removes it. 
Maodonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 121. (See also pp. 26 and 88.) 


colours. 125 The Rig- Veda conceives of him as a noble 
lord, a king and a universal monarch as a being to whom 
sovereignty belongs in a pre-eminent manner. He is 
possessed of mysterious powers ; the whole world is established 
in him and obeys his laws. He regulates the movement of 
heavenly bodies and terrestrial objects alike. Nothing is secret 
from him neither the hidden depths of the earth nor the 
hidden depths of the human soul. From his heavenly mansion 
of a thousand doors and his seat of a thousand columns 
he looks on all deeds, beholds the truth and falsehood of men 
and is an invisible witness of man's thoughts, intentions and 
acts. 126 The sun that roams over the world by day and the 
stars that shine by night keep a watch on the conduct of men 
and report it to him ; and his thousand-eyed spies ferret out 
every wrong and are never deceived. Even the gods r.innot 
transgress his fixed ordinances, which Varuna strictly guards. 
He hates and punishes such moral lapses as falsehood, deceit, 
cruelty, cheating, cursing, gambling, anger and drunkenness 
and afflicts with disease those that break the moral law. 
There is no possibility of escaping from his jurisdiction and 
his fetters inexorably ensnare the sinner. 127 Communion 
with him is broken through sin and he withdraws his friend- 
ship and favour from the impenitent sinner. But Varuna 
has a benign as well as a terrible aspect. He supports his 
own creation with timely rain and adequate nourishment. 
Being superior to the moral law, which is established in him 
and is an expression of his holy will, he does not insist upon 
strict justice being meted out to sinners. He understands 
their failings and is willing and able to forgive even the daily 
transgressions of his laws provided they are truly penitent. 
He is able to drive away disease and death and to release 

H5 Griswold, op. cit., Ch. V; Macdonell, V.Af., p. 24 f. ; Ragozin, op. cit., 
p. 140; Keith, Rel. and Phil, of Veda and Upamsads, 1, p. 246f . ; Winter nitz, 
op. ctt., I (E.T.), p. 80 f. 

M* Whatever thing two sitting down together talk about, Varuna as 8 
third knows (AV. IV. 16.2); s^e Griswold, op. cit. t p. 129. 

Wflee AV. IV, 16; Winternitz, op. cit., I, pp. 144-45; Griswold, op. cit., 
p. 129. 


from all sins. He is merciful and gracious and one can bo 
restored to his favour by * ' moral seriousness in trying to 
discover one's 'hidden faults' (VII. 86, 3-4), confession of sin 
(VII. 86, 6 ; 88, 6 ; 89, 3), longing to be justified in the sight 
of Varuna (VII. 87, 7 ; 1.24. 15); prayer for the remission 
of penalty (VII. 86, 5 ; 88, 6 ; 89, 1, 5 ; I. 24, 9, 11-15 ; 
25, 1-2; V. 85, 7-8; II. 28, 5-7, 9), purpose after new 
obedience (VII. 86, 7), oblations and sacrifices (1.24, 14) 
and hymns of praise " (VII. 86, 8 ; I. 25, 3-4). 128 
So, as Macdoncll points out, " There is in fact no hyrnn to 
Varuna (and the Adityas) 129 in which the prayer for forgive- 
ness of guilt does not occur, as in the hymns to other deities 
the prayer for worldly goods." 130 In fact, this aspect was so 
prominent that even when other gods (e.g., Aditi) are prayed 
to for forgiveness of sin, the prayer often takes the form of 

188 Griswold, op. cit., p. 129 (with footnote). 

129 The following quotation from Griswold neatly puts tbo relation between 
Varuna and the Adityas : 

Varuna stands out clear and distinct with sharply defined characteristics. 
Mitra h's companion and double is in most matters simply the replica of Varuna. 
What is true of Mitra is true of all the other Adityas in their relation to Varuna 
their head. They have little or no individuality or real personality. They indeed 
form a system with Varuna , revolvh-g about him, as it were, like planets about 
a central sun. But in relation to Varuna they are little more than expressions of 
his divine nature, personified aspects of the same, in short, little more than 
names of the great god. Thus Mitra and Aryainan explicate the social nature 
and laws of Varuna. Mitra, ' he of the compact,* signifies that Varuna is a 
covenant-keeping god and demands that men should be like him in this respect 
Aryainan * the loyal, 1 ' the true ' with special reference to the marriage contract 
means that Varuna desires truth and loyalty in the marriage relation. Bhaga, 
1 he of bounty, 1 and Ams"a, ' he of the due share/ emphasize the bountiful and 
gracious character of Varuna who ' gives to all men liberally,' and to every man 
his duo. Daksa ' he of strength, cleverness, insight, will ' emphasizes the creative 
purpose, power and skill of Varuna. In a word, if the idityas are in the aggregate 
sense gods of celestial light, they are also, ' in the aggregate sense,' gods of 
truth and righteousness, the creators and directors of an eternal and inviolable 
world-order, both physical and moral. Being ' observers of order f ' ritavanfth,' 
i.e. holy themselves, they are able to say with one voice : " Bo ye holy, for I an 
holy " The Religion of the Rigveda, p. 143 (see Keith, op. cit., p. 99). For a 
comparison of the Xdityas with the Amesha Spentas, see Griswold, op. cit., p. 145 f., 
end Keith, op. cie., p. 102. For a comparison of tho Vedic list with the Bauranie, 
0ee N. K. Bhattasali's Iconography of Buddhist and Brahmaniaal Sculptures in 
the Dacca Museum, pp. 164-5$. 

iWMacdonell, V. M., p. 27. 


seeking to be released from the fetters of Varuna with the help 
of these gods. ia 

But the future allegiance of Hinduism belonged to other 
gods. Simultaneously with the Aryanisation of the land, 
there went on an imperceptible absorption of indigenous 
culture and this led to a shifting of emphasis to such Vedic 
gods as could be easily assimilated to objects of local worship. 
Possibly also, the fitful monotheism of the Vedas did not 
satisfy those who had passed through the baptism of Upani- 
sadic monism and n more systematic attempt to lead things 
to a primal personal unity was the crying need of the hour. 
The Vedic gods, again, were gods of the whole tribe, although 
it is not improbable that this or that god was occasionally 
preferred as being the best and highest. But as the area of 
Aryan culture extended, local considerations must have 
dictated the ranking of the different gods, with the effect that, 
after the period of the Upanisads, sectariiinism began to rear 
its head and to look upon this or that god as the supreme 
entity and the source of all things. A change in the popular 
idea regarding the proper method of approaching God, how- 
soever caused, was also responsible for the development of 
theism. Not intellectual contemplation but loving devotion 
was looked upon as the proper way of gaining divine help 
and guidance, and so the impersonal Brahman was replaced 
in popular affection by the personal gods of later Hinduism. 
Two gods towered above the rest henceforth in popular esteem, 
namely, Visnu and Siva ; but the Vedic solar worship also 
managed to survive in some form all through the centuries 
by the side of Vaisnavism and Saivism. The cult of ^akti, 
the Mother Goddess, also attracted some earnest minds and 
managed to fuse together Vedic and aboriginal beliefs. 
Ganea, probably the god of a local cult, also gained rorae 
following and was duly affiliated to the cults of Siva .and 
Sakti. Many of the Vedic gods were totally forgotten in the 
new pantheon of Hinduism specially, the minor and older 

m Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 121. 


gods, and some were allied to the new divinities. A new 
literature grew up to discourse on these sectarian gods and 
hostile traditions were established among the new theists of 




We must see in the raising of Visnu to the supreme posi- 
tion an attempt to combine the power of Tndra, the sacrificial 
and creative aspects of Brahmanaspati and Brahma, and the 
moral government of the world associated hitherto with 
Varuna. 1 An additional motive must have been supplied by 
the tradition that Visnu had laboured in the past for the 
benefit of man (BV. 7. 100.4; 6. 69.5-6; 6.49.13). His 
famous " three strides," encompassing the whole realm of 
existence, had also established his omnipresence, including 
his home in the highest hea,ven, and his kinship with the 
rolling disc of Surya who was worshipped in a variety of forms 
in Vedic times. Barring a vague solar association, 2 however, 
Visnu had very little of physical origin about him and he 
could, therefore, be easily personified and endowed with 
necessary intellectual and ethical qualities. 

But the rise of Vaisnavism cannot be wholly explained 
by the above considerations. We must assume that the mind 
of the nation was being insensibly prepared for a new theistic 
cult. The better minds must have had enough of sacrificial 
cruelty and fanciful rites meant to placate the gods, and the 
popular mind must have indicated in no uncertain terms its 

1 Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 87 f. ; Griswold, op. dt., p. 988 f. For the 
ousting of Indra by Visnu, see B. Sastri, Bhakti Cult in Ancient India, p. 90 f. 
(Ch. IX. Vishnu Everywhere). 

* See Bar net t, op. cit. 9 p. 38; Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 206. The modern 
dhyvna of Nftrftyana places him in the Sun (tavitTmantfalamadhyaoarti). See 
Bharafon Kumarappa, The Hindu Conception of the Deity, pp. 89, 111, 117 f. In 
the Nftt-hlaung Visnu Temple at Pagan (Burma) where different Avot&ras of 
Visnu were inserted in niches, an image of Surya of South Indian variety probably 
figured as an avat&ra. Niharranjan Bay, Brahmanical Qod* in Burma, p. 42. 
in Java an i^tification of diva and Sfirya i* not 


dissatisfaction with the cold speculative unity of Brahman. 
A simplified and less costly rite and a god capable of responding 
to the needs of the human heart could alone bring together in 
common worship the wise and the ignorant, and a god 
that had sacrificial association and carried with him a tradi- 
tion of willing helpfulness to man was just what the nation 
wanted at the time. The unity of godhead had been almost 
achieved in the Vedic age ; and in the sub-Vedic age, namely, 
in the Upanisads, Monotheism had even passed over into 
Absolutistic monism. All that was needed was to fix up the 
name and attributes of the unitary God and to define the 
proper attitude of worship towards him. 

We may very well believe that the Vedic Visnu was 
found suitable for achieving this purpose. When Prajapati 
had satisfied the cosmogonic interest but was found to be un- 
suitable for the government of the world, the religious temper 
found satisfaction in Visnu who took interest in human 
affairs. Already in the Brahmanas stories had begun to be 
told of a god who exerted himself on behalf of gods and men in 
various assumed forms. The fish that saved Manu from the 
deluge, the tortoise that created offspring to people the world, 
the boar that lifted up the submerged earth and the dwarf 
that outwitted the demons and helped the gods are instances 
in point and, as is to be expected, Prajapati was credited 
with some of these achievements. But very soon all these, 2 
and more besides, were ascribed to Visnu in his capacity as 
the moral governor of the world, and of all gods he alone was 
supposed to have come down periodically to set matters 
right, whenever the world was in distress, not because of any 
sacrificial compulsion but out of his own free will and grace. 

It is at this point probably that by a happy stroke of 
speculation Visnu was identified with Purusa NarSyana who 
in the Satapatha BrShmana (XII, iii. 4. 1) was regarded as 
having pervaded the whole of nature, 4 This term waked up 

sWmternitz, op. cit., I, p. 205 the identification was probably effected 
through sacrifice, with which both Prajapati and Vifnu were identified. See also 
B. Kuaaarappa, op. 0s*., p. 


reminiscences of the Vedic Puru?a who had allowed himself 
to be sacrificed so that the universe might come into being, 
and it also facilitated the fancy that this primeval spirit was 
also Narayana (of the family of Nara) 5 or identical with man in 
his spiritual qualities. For one endowed with such qualities 
it is not only possible to take actual human form, if necessary, 
but also to reciprocate at all times the love which his devotees 
bestow on him. The former aspect proved the basis of the 
theory of incarnation (avatara) and the latter of the path of 
devotion (bhakti). 6 This is evident in the Narayanlya section 
of the Mahabharata (XII, Chs. 336-343) and the Bhagavadgita 
(VI. 35-42), in both af which we have a message of spiritual, 
as opposed to animal sacrifice, of a god without whose * co- 
operative grace ' salvation is not possible, and of a life devo- 
tional which 1 obviates the necessity of austere practices, Vedic 
rites and intellectual speculations alike. The latter refers to 
the many descents of God, whenever virtue declines and 
iniquity prospers, in order to set right a disjointed world ; the 
former specifies these different descents. 7 The ethical charac- 
ter of the supreme God is brought out in the usual Indian way 

6 This is Barnett's suggestion, only that he thinks that this Nftrftyana, " a 
man of the Nara family," was originally a divine or deified saint, a ri*hi. He 
refers to divine saints mentioned in the Bigveda and the Br&hmanas as being creators 
of the universe and treated in legends as being the equals of the gods, attaining 
divine powers by their mystic insight into the sacrificial lore. We have taken 
the term in a slightly different sense. It may be added that the orthodox deriva- 
tion of the term which makes it to mean (as hinted at, e.g., in the Manu-SamhM, 
I) " one who rests on the ocean " (referring to the Panrftnic belief that Visnu 
rests reclined in mystic aleep on his serpent-couch in the ocean of milk) links it 
up with the Vedic primeval waters out of which creation originally arose. See 
Barnett, Hindu Gods and Heroes, p. 77. 

Bhakti connotes chaste fondness as well as devout faith. (The Vedio 
Braddha and the Brahmanic Preman are earlier terms. Hopkins, Ethic* of India, 
p. 194. Bee also Sir Charles. Eliot, Hinduism and Buddhism, II, p. 180 f. f for the 
early beginnings of Bhakti in Indian religious literature,) 

7 The list omits the names of Fish and Buddha and substitutes Krsna for 
Balarama. Another list substitutes Swan (in which form Visnn is supposed to 
have communicated the Vedas to Brahman) for Fish (which in later mythology 
does not save the life of Manu but rescues the Vedaa from the Deluge) (M.Bh. 
XH. 840. 100). See Carpenter, Theism in Mediaeval India, p. 389 f. The list 
of incarnations is not uniform (see art. INCABNATION (Indian) by H. Jacob! in 
ERE. vii. 198, f.n.l), nor is incarnation understood in a uniform aense, for it 

, BHAGAVAT AND 999* 205 

by supposing that Narayana was born as a son of Dharma or 

But the stream of Vaisnavism was apparently fed by 
many rills of thought. 8 Literary and archaeological remains 
refer to a Bhagavat or Lord the name borne as a part by the 
Bhagavadglta ; a Vasudeva who claimed a sect of followers 
(as did Arjuna) ; and a Krsna, son of Devaki. What clans, 
tribes or peoples worshipped the supreme God in these differ- 
ent names can only be a matter of conjecture now ; but the 
tradition of Krsna's association with the Abhlras (cowherds) 
and of the worship of Vasudeva-Krsna by the Satvata tribe 
lends colour to the supposition that possibly these gods were 
worshipped by people who were either scripturally or intellec- 
tually incapable of, or traditionally averse to, performing 
Vedic rites 9 and understood the deep Upanisadic Philosophy, 
which Krsna Devaklputtra learnt from Ghora Arigirasa, in a 
devotional sense. It is also probable that, being outside the 
Vedic pantheon and originally having no association with 
Visnu, these new gods could not be worshipped in the Vedic 
way and consequently the simple worship practised by their 
original adherents passed over into the Brahmanic cult. By 
the time of the Narayaniya section of the Mahabharata some 
sort of federation of these faiths had been firmly established, 
for we are told that, as Dharma' s son, NarSyana 
had three brothers Nara (a previous incarnation of 
Arjuna), Hari (or Visnu) and Krsna who, being regarded 

covers alike actual descent (plenary or partial) and manifestation (real or docetic). 
See also Sir Charles Eliot, Hinduism and Buddhism, Vol. II, p. 147 f. ; Hopkins, 
Epic Mythology, pp. 217-iB; Earth, Religions of India, p. 170 f.; Schrader, 
Int. to the Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhitd, p. 42; B. Kumar appa, 
op. tit., p. 110 f. 

B The reader is referred to the illuminating article of H. Jacob! on INCAK- 
NATION (Indian^ in ERE. vii. 193 f. See also E. G. Bhandarkar, Va&writm, 
Saivism and Minor Religious Systems, Parts I, VI, VII, VIII, IX; also Sir 
Charles Eliot, Hinduism and Buddhism, Vol. II, p. 152 f . ; p. 201. For difference 
between Narayana and Krsna, see Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 214. See Bharatan 
Kumarappa, The Hindu Conception of the Deity, Chs. H-IV. (The present writer 
got this excellent manual too late to be able to utilise it fully.) 

See Sir Charles Eliot, op, at., p. 156; N. N. Ghosh, Indo-Aryan literature 
and Culture (Origins), p. 47. 


*s the son of Vasudeva (and DevakI), was also called Vastt- 
deva. The Taittiriya Aranyaka (X. i. 6) had referred to 
Narayana, Vasudeva and Visnu as three phases of the same 
god. Not only was this confirmed but even a philosophy of 
emanation (the theory of Vyuhas) was reared upon the 
relationships of Vasudeva his brother (Balarama or 
Sankarsana), 10 son (Pradyumna) and grandson (Aniruddha) 
being deified with different divine functions, 11 and sometimes 
the whole group being regarded as forming a hierarchy of 
beings emanating from Narayana. 12 In short, a serious and 
systematic attempt was made to posit a self-sufficient unitary 
divinity, creating and controlling the physical and the moral 
universe and holding spiritual and moral relations with man. 13 

10 It appears from Kautilya's Arthaiastra (Eng. Tr., Bk. XIII, Ch. 8) that 
an ascetic sect owing allegiance to Sankarsana existed at one time and that it 
used a sacrificial beverage. See Barnett, op. ctt., p. 91. 

u Speaking of the origins of Vaisnavism Sir Charles Eliot observes (op. '*., H, 
1*. 197 f.) : " The Paflcaratra was not Brahmanic in origin... .It seems to have grown 
up in noith -western India in the centuries when Iranian influence was strong and 
may owe to Zoroastrianism the doctrine of the Vyuhas which finds a parallel in 
the relation of Ahura Mazda to Spenta Mainyu, his Holy Spirit, and in the 
Fravashis. It is also remarkable that God is credited with six attributes comparable 
with the six Ame&ha Spentas." The four forms had no fixed functions. Lokacarya 
in his Tattvatraya assigns knowledge (jnana) and strength (bala) to Sankarsana, 
lordship (aitvarya) and power or virility (virya) to Pradyumna, and ability (tafctt) 
and energy (tejas) to Aniruddha. Schrader in his Introduction to the Pancafatra 
and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita gives an elaborate account of these gunas and their 
relation to the Vyuhas (p. 29 f.) and queries if these six divine attributes were 
not borrowed from Zoroastrianism in which also God is ascribed six attributes 
(p. 176). See B. Eumarappa, op. cit. t p. 99 f. 

u For Vyuhas in the Gaitanya school, see Bhandarkar, op, cit. t pp. 19, 63, 86. 
Elsewhere (M. Bh. VII. 29.26 f.) the four forms are differently conceived and do 
not refer to the four Vyuhas. Sec Carpenter, Theism in Mediaeval India, p. 242; 
Barnett, op. cit., p. 86. For a similar conception in daivism and Buddhism, see Sir 
Charles Eliot, Brahmanism and Buddhism, It, p. 198. H. C. Bayohaudhcuri 
(Early, History of the Vaifnava Sect, p. 105) remarks : " The ousting of the 
Vyuhas by the Avataras was one of the characteristic signs of the transformation 
of Bhftgavatism into Vishguism." 

tt Speaking of the predominance of diva and Visnu in the later religious 
literature, fiir Charles Eliot remarks : " The change created by their appearance 
is not merely the addition of two imposing figures to an already ample pantheon ; 
it is a revolution which might be described as the introduction of a new religion, 
except that it does not eome as the enemy or destroyer of the o4d. M 8ir Charles 
Eliot, Hinduism and Buddhism, H, p. 136. 


We shall quote Carpenter's admirable summary of the reli- 
gious position attained by Visnu-Narayana-Kr$na in the 

" Above all gods he rises, like Brahman of old, or 
Siva as Mahegvara, into sole Deity. Nature is 
the scene of his sovereignty ; there he reigns as 
King of kings; foremost in the universe, there 
is no higher Being in the three worlds. Hymn 
after hymn celebrates his unceasing activity. 
The mighty frame of earth and heaven consti- 
tutes his body ; the sky is his head, the sun and 
moon his eyes, the winds his breaths. Without 
beginning and without end, an infinite eternal 
energy, he pervades all worlds, the unchanging 
fountain of all power, so that the whole creation 
springs from him and disappears in him. He is 
the Infinite Self (anantatman) , Teacher of the 
heavenly powers, the Unmanifest Spirit of att 
matter (pradhdna) , Soul of the universe, with the 

All for his Form Vishnu is no mere 

metaphysical entity transcending the Three 
Strands, 14 an abstract magnitude, an intellectual 
identification of -Cause and Effect, a ritual 
harmony of sacrificer, priest, offering, and doity. 
He is God with a character, Source of all Morality, 
Eevealer of all Truth. Not only is he the divine 
Author of the Vedas, the Instructor in all the 
sciences, the Master in all learning, he is the 
supreme Providence, Ordainer of ordainers, " he 

who does good to everyone " True, he 

is the destroyer of sin as well as of grief and pain ; 
but he has no personal anger against the wicked ; 
he forgives all injuries, he is inclined to show 
favour to all, he purifies the sinner and protects 

" The Bfepkhya g^a^-Sottva, Rj a8 ** Two*-** tf Wbfcfe ft* ttt*t*ril 


the pious, and he has come on earth a hundred 
times. Such a Deity needed no slaughtered 

animals upon his altar and the path to 

union of spirit with him lay through lowly 
surrender of all desire for personal reward of right 
action, and that meditation on the Eternal which 

freed the soul from bonds of sense and time 

The universe was not a regrettable necessity 
whose existence was to be deplored, nor was it to 
be thought away as an illusion ; it was real, and 
to be " seen in God " (to use the phrase of Male- 
branche), the product of divine love, the sphere 
of discipline for man's fellowship with the Most 
High. 1 ' 16 

The Bhagavadgita, though eclectic in character, substan- 
tially holds up the above ideal of God and attitude of worship 
towards Him. Again and again does it point out that God 
can be realised not by the study of the Vedas and other scrip- 
tures, nor by performing penances, austerities, sacrifices and 
rites, nor by ceremonial gifts, but by Divine grace and by low- 
ly surrender and dedication of self to God. But it does not 
attack the caste-organisation on the other hand, it insists 
upon the fulfilment of the duties of one's status and station 
in life without the hope of any benefit in return. It sanctifies 
all moral acts that are performed in a spirit of detachment 
and not with the idea of coercing God into beneficence nor 
in a spirit of religious beggarliness. To see God in every- 
thing and everything in God is the proper object of worship 
and only a life of discipline and devotion can attain this 

It is impossible to exaggerate the influence of this new idea 
of God and man's relation with Him. The philosophers now 
got materials of a new interpretation of those Upanisad : c toxts 
which had taught the origin of all things out of a unitary 

u Theism in Mediaeval India, pp. 242-3; see also Hopkins, Ethics of India, 
p. 218. 


being. The theistic philosophers of South India, who in- 
herited the legacy of the Epics, as augmented by the contri- 
butions of the Puranas and of their own Dravidian devotees 
the Alvars, challenged the absolutistic interpretation of the 
Vedanta by Sankara and gave the whole system a theistic 
turn. 16 The schools of Eamanuja, NimbSrka, Madhva, 
VallabhacSrya (originally of Visnuswamin), and Caitanya 
had their own commentary on the Brahma-Sutra, but all 
agreed that God and His devotee were both real and that 
devotion was the only sure way of knowing Him and com- 
muning with Him. True, the ascetic ideal of India continued 
to sway the minds of most of the founders of these Churches ; 
but the lay householder was assured of the fruits of his 
devotion even though he had not recited a single Vedic hymn 
or performed a single sacrificial act. New scriptures depict- 
ing the exploits of Visnu were composed and canonised. 
There were even occasional and serious attempts, more or less 
successful, to democratise society by abolishing caste-privileges 
and, by admitting people of alien faiths into the fold, to 
universalise the religion as in the early days of Vai?navism 
when a Greek ambassador Heliodora could call himself a 
worshipper of Bhagavat and erect a Garuda-column 
to Vasudeva. 17 Each man was called upon individually fo 
make peace with his Maker and to be at peace with the whole 

We shall not tarry over the shortcomings of a creed that 
tended to produce a serious emotional unbalance when 
sensuous elements effected an entrance into the constitu- 
tion of devotion. The disinterested love of God got mixed up 
with illegal human love that brings no return except social 

i*The most surprising and historically important fact in the various lauds 
of Visnu as All-God is that he is nowhere called by the sacrosanct formula of the 
Ved&nta. He is wise, knowing, blest, true, Joy, etc., but he is not even said to 
be possessed of ctt, still less is he designated as being saecid&nanda in the. phrase 
of the later Upanisads and Ved&nta. Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 908* Sett B. 
Kumar appa, op. ctt, Gh. IV. 

HBarnett, op. cit. 9 p. 88; Bhandarkar, op. cit., p. 3; H. 0. Raychandhurii 
Materials for the Study of the Early History of the Vaijnaea Sect, p. 88. 



obloquy, and a secondary growth of unsavoury myths round 
the personality of Krijna tended to undo, in minds prone to 
confusing symbols with facts, the good achieved by emphasis- 
ing the emotional needs of man. The classic philosophies of 
India had tabooed the emotions in matters spiritual ; the new 
creed sanctified the feeling life of man the mutual love of 
a father or mother and a child, of a friend and a friend, of 
a man and a maid. That God is Love was preached in all 
possible forms and the danger of corruption was not scented 
afar. An association with the lower Sakti cult partly due 
to Vedic tradition of female deities, partly due to the identi- 
fication of Sakti with the VedSntic Maya and partly due to 
the psychological necessity of postulating an oternal object of 
Divine love transformed the spontaneous sportiveness of 
God in creating the world and the longing of the finite for the 
infinite into the guilty amours of a cowherd Krsna and the 
wanton abandon of the youthful girls of Brndavana. 10 

The danger came from an altered conception of the nature 
and necessity of divine incarnation. The Vedas had talked 
of deified men, of gods coming down to the seat of sacrificial 
grass (barhis), of the many forms of Agni and the occult 
powers (m&ya) by which Indra could assume many forms. 
Eeligious speculation had regarded the early descents of God 
(e.g., of Prajapati) as casual and prompted by the need of 

For a defence of the Krsna-Radha.<jum-GopI relation, see B. Bautrf, Bhakti 
Cult in Ancient India, p. 389 f. (Ch. XXII. Suddha-Preroa) ; GK N. Mallik, The 
Philosophy of Vaifnava Religion, Book HI, Ch. H. (The Principle of Rftdha). 
A passage like the following from the Bhagavadgttfi may, for instance, admit 
both of a spiritual and of an nnholy interpretation : 

sarvadhannan parityajya mamekaxn laranam vraja 
aham tvam sarvap&pebhyo moksayisyami ma facafe. 

" Leaving all dharmas take refuge in me alone; I shall release thea from 
all sins, do not grieve " (Bh. <*. 18.66). 

In the KuWrnaca Tantra t ridhaka (religious devotee) is enjoined to cut 
off the bonds (pO/a) which make him a soul in bondage (patu), namely, pity (rfayfl), 
ignorance (moha). shame (la/fa), family (fcuto), custom or habitual conduct (ma) 
and caste (ai*a). This again may have dangerous as well as spiritual implications, 
(See Avalon, Tantra of ike Great Liberation, Int., p. 


meeting a definite situation. The later idea of a god begin- 
ning his life on earth with infancy and ending it with death like 
ordinary human beings necessitated the filling in of the details 
of temporal life with miraculous deeds and heroic exploits. 
As the divine objective was in all cases the rewarding of virtue 
and the punishment of sin the divine incarnation was natural- 
ly endowed with martial valour ; hence either Katriyas or war- 
like Brahmanas were alone thought of as possible manifesta- 
tions of the Deity. 19 The effect was that divine and human 
irresponsibilities managed to coalesce in some of the incarna- 
tions especially in the two forms of the Dvapara Age, namely, 
Balarama whose drunkenness and fits of violence under the 
influence of wine were notorious and Krna who took undue 
advantage of the passionate love of the wives of the cowherds 
of Brndavana. How these unethical myths gathered round 
the greatest religious preacher of India must remain for ever 
obscure just as we cannot explain now how obscene figures 
came to adorn the exterior of temples in Orissa : the fact 
remains that an enlightened posterity has expressed in no 
uncertain terms its disbelief in and disapprobation of the kind 
of conduct attributed in the Puranas to Kysna, and has either 
ascribed it to contemporary vicious taste or seen in it an 
allegory of the mutual yearning of the finite and the infinite 
soul. But as Krnaism is not the whole of Vaisnavism and 
Hinduism has chosen to follow the domestic ideal of Kama 
and Sita, of Lakgml and Narayana, rather than the relation 
of Krgna and Eadha 20 or the sixteen thousand cowherdesses of 
Brndavana, 21 its baneful influence on social life has been 
less than that of debased Saktaism and decadent Tantric 

l*8ee the author's Vitality of Hindu Religion in Philosophical Quarterly, 
Vol. L 

MRftdha does not appear by name either in the Visnu Purina or in the 
Bhagavata Purftna. See, however, Bhakti Cult in Ancient India by Bhagavatkuraar 
Sastri, p. 105, and also Philosophy of Vaisnava Religion, Book in, Chap. II (The 
Principle of Badhft) by Girindra Narayana Mallik, who quite? a $k ParUisfa 
druti. RftdhA is a popular figure in early erotic Prakrit Literature (e.g t , the 
Qahasattasai) round whom many love romances form and grow. It was another 
step; to take her up in the plane of religious and mystic worship. 

& Carpenter, op. eft., p. 481; Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 214* 


Buddhism. 28 When not taken allegorically, the amours of 
Krgna may be interpreted physically rather than ethically, that 
is, they may be regarded as the indication of a superhuman 
vigour that is possible only to an incarnate Deity God is great 
in all things, not excepting the possession of sexual virility 
when he takes a human form. Still, it is only candid to admit 
that the influence of this debased conception of God on the 
unconscious mind might be considerable, 23 and that in certain 
deformed cults Krsnaism did exercise a baneful influeace just 
as a literal imitation of the union of the two generative 
principles of Siva and Sakti produced orgiastic rites in " left- 
handed " Saktaism. 

It is almost certain, however, that Vasudeva-Krsna 24 
was originally conceived in noble terms. It is now 
conclusively, established that there could have been " no 
Christian influence at work in originating the worship of 
Kysija " (because " the Jains have built up their entire 
hagiology on the model of the history of Krsna ") nor is the 
Bhakti cult an import from the West. 25 The philosophy of 
the Bhagavadgltd generally follows the alignment of the cul- 
ture and tradition of Indian religious and philosophical 
thought, intensifying at the same time the theistic and devo- 
tional element of religion, and, for that purpose, setting up 
the figure of Krsna as a worthy object of adoration and wor- 
ship. The other element that enforces attention is the 
direction to renounce the fruits of action. We may 
very well suppose that the Vaisnava religion, as taught in the 
Bhagavadgita, was extremely well-timed. It was the first * . 

Hopkins, Ethics of India, p. 203; see Sir Charles Eliot, Hinduism and 
Bm&fffom, n, p. 134 f . 

See Hopkins, Ethics of India, p. 211. 

K H. Jaoobi adduces evidence to show that the two were originally treated 
aa distinct individuals. ERE. vii. 196, art. INCARNATION (Indian). 

ERB, vii. 196; ii. 548. See also H. C. Baychaudhuri, Materials for the 
fltaufy of the Early History of the Vaifnava Sect, Lecture III; and Barth, 
Religions of India, p. 167, f.n. 1; p. 219 f. 

Barth argues for the priority of the gaivite religion bnt admits that 
fiaivism early lost its hold over religious epic poetry." (The Religions of India. 
p. 196 f.) 


great theistic movement, after the Absolutistic upheaval of 
the Upanisads, which claimed that all worship paid to other 
gods was appropriated by Lord Krsna himself. 27 It thus 
continued and ennobled the Vedic religious tradition. It 
recognised class distinctions but gave no pre-eminence to any 
class in matters spiritual : it taught that a faithful perform* 
ance of ordained duties without any hankering after the 
fruits thereof was religiously meritorious in all cases. 28 Inci- 
dentally, it set up the toiling Lord as the great exemplar of 
disinterested service. It attached a higher value to mental 
operation and attitude in worship than to its material side : 29 
it admitted, however, temperamental differences in 
methods of approach, while holding up intelligent 
faith and active devotion as the ideal of a spiritual 
life. We may very well suppose that the great prin- 
ciple of Karmasannydsa (renunciation of the fruits of 
action) was a compromise between a contemporary ideal of 
non-action (akriydvdda) , which was combated by Brahman- 
ism, Jainism and Buddhism alike, 30 and an ideal of interested 
action (Mmatmata, in the language of the Manu-Samhitfi), 
designed to bring temporal and transcendental benefits to the 
self. We may suppose also that the foundation of a liberal 
non-sacrificial theistic nco-Brahmanism which was ascribed to 
Krsna Devakiputtra, regarded as a Ksatriya, and the non- 
theistic reform movements of Mahavira and Buddha, both also 
assigned to the Ksatriya caste, were not wholly accidental but 
represented an attempt to establish the leadership of the 

*Bh.Gk 9.23. See B. Kumarappa, op. ait., Ch. II. Conception of the Deity 
in the Bhagavadglta. 

WBh.G. 18.41-9. 

MBh.GK 4.24-38. See in this connection Bh.G. 18.5-6; also 12.19 and 10-25. 

MMany of the heretical teachers taught a philosophy of inactivity or of 
spontaneous perfection or a philosophy of chance or time bringing things to 
fruition. See 6 vet. Up. 1.2; also B. M. Barua, Pre-Buddhi$tic Philosophy, 
p. 189. The doctrine of Karman (and transmigration), we may very well 
suppose, got its emphasis and universality at about this time in Brahmanism, 
Jainism and Buddhism by way of reply, although the GTtft did not fail to point 
out how the, potency of Karma seeds could be destroyed, w*., by disinterested 


E^atriyas 51 in non-conventional religious thinking in imita- 
tion of earlier heroes. 32 The Bhagavadglta achieved some- 
thing more. At a time when the Vedic gods had become 
mostly mythical or symbolic owing to Upanisadic influence, 
it proposed a personal god who was supposed to have walked 
the earth and was, therefore, not an unreal personage. Here 
we have the figure of a god whose exploits are described with 
graphic details and whose friendly instruction to a companion 
in doubt breathes a spirit of disinterested service in the cause 
of humanity and the world at large. It is doubtful if at a 
time when the scriptural prescriptions were being perfunc- 
torily obeyed or viewed with scepticism any one but a living 
teacher, or one supposed to have lived on earth, could have 
caught the ears of the public. 33 The times longed for a new 
creed, and a new teacher was immediately forthcoming. 
The demand created the supply : this alone renders intelligible 


31 In the Buddhistic scriptures the order of enumeration of the castes is 
always Kgatriya, Brfthmana, VaiSya and Sudra. Mahavira is also supposed to 
have been transferred from the womb of a Brahmana woman to that or a Kgatriya 
lady as he refused to be born " in a beggarly caste." Havell has suggested that 
Visnu and his fiikhara temple are modelled on an Aryan chieftain (of the 
Kgatriya elan) and his royal chapel with the high-peaked crown (see Havell, 
A Handbook of Indian Art, p. 67 ; see also p. 77). Possibly the Brahmanio claim 
to be considered as ' gods on earth * was partly responsible for Kgatriya revolt. 

The great Esatriya figures of the Upanisads are Janaka, As*vapati Kaikeya, 
Prav&hana Jaivali, Ajataftatru. Western scholars whose jealousy and hatred of 
Brahmanio ascendancy in India take the form of ascribing all religious originality 
to the Kgatriyas need be reminded of the Upanigadic text uttered by Ajatalatru : 
pratilomarp caitadyadbrahmana^ kgatriyamupeyat (That a Br&hmana shouU ap- 
proach a Kgatriya is against the normal order of instruction), which 
makes it dear that a Brahmana seeking enlightenment at the hands of a Kgatriya 
was unusual and exceptional, the normal relation being just the reverse. See Muir, 
Original Sanskrit Texts, I, Ch. IV, Sees, xiv-xv (3rd Ed., p. 426 f.). See also 
Keith, Aitareya Aranyaka, Introduction, p. 50. 

Similar conditions are prevailing in India to-day. Bftmakrishna 
Paramahanisa, Vijayakriahtfa Gosw&mi, the Brahmacari of Baradi, V&m&kgepa 
(the mad Varna) of Tarapith, Katfiia Babi and many lesser luminaries have 
left or are leaving following* of different sizes in Bengal. Mediaeval saints of India 
JEWmananda, Kabir, Nanak, Dadu, etc. left similar following* in the past. For 
ar account of the mediaeval paints, see Sketch of the Religions of the Hindu Sects 
by H. H. Wilson; Theism in Mediaeval India by B. Carpenter; Indian Religion* 
Sect* (in Bengali) by Ak?ayskumara Datta; Saints of Mediaeval India (in Bengali; 
by Kfifcimohan* Sen; The Religions of India by A. Barth. 


the ready acceptance of the three new creeds of Vaisnavism, 
Jainism and Buddhism by a large portion of the population 
without much opposition and bloodshed. We may also 
believe that there was a popular revulsion of feeling against 
the cult of sacrificial cruelty and those responsible for its 
continuance : this alone can explain why with a singular 
unanimity the message of Ahimsa (non-injury) was preached 
by all these new movements and a gradual decline in the 
sanctity of caste-distinctions took place. A compassionate 
preacher, seeking out the weak and the sinner, and a gracious 
Lord, condescending to come down on earth to put down 
iniquity and to lend a helping hand to struggling souls, were 
just the helpers that men wanted when their faith in the 
magical efficacy of Vedic rites and in the possibility of attain- 
ing eternal existence and happiness through mere meditation 
began to wane. True, Vaisnavism sometimes went to the op- 
posite extreme and thought that the taking of the Lord's name, 
even once with the last dying breath, would wipe away the sins 
of a life-time ; but the magic effect of name is an ancient in- 
heritance of man and was also a necessary, though exagger- 
ated, reply to those wbo had deprived God of all grace and 
power to save the sinner. The traditions of devotion, com- 
passion, non-injury, Divine grace and equality of men Vaisnav.. 
ism has, except on rare occasions, followed all through its 
history down to the present times, and its strong hold on the 
popular mind is mostly due to its appeal to the sentiments of 
men who crave, out of their weakness and failing, for a 
Divine Deliverer, merciful rather than stern, anxious to save 
His creatures rather than solicitous of their oblations and 
offerings. It has also set its face all along against Absolutism 
and absorption of the finite in the infinite and thus satisfied 
the craving for individual immortality and a blessed personal 
existence in proximity to God as a reward of virtuous and devo- 
tional life. 84 

* See G. N. Mallik, The Philosophy of Vaiwn* Religion, Bk. IV, Oh. VI. 
The Highest Good or Summum Bonum in the Vaip>aTa System. See also M. T. 
Kennedy, The CJwutam/a Movement, p. 08 f. 


Vaisnavism contributed something more to the religious 
tradition of India. Although in Vedic times certain priestly 
families were specially associated with the adoration of 
certain divinities they did not form any well-defined sect with 
special modes of worship and organisation. Different tribes 
or clans did not have their own patron gods ; each god was a 
god of the entire community. Whether due to the fact that 
Vasudeva-Krsna was originally the patron deity of a special 
tribe or clan or whether because he was originally the local 
deity of a small area or whether because the Visnu-Kpsna cult 
was from the very beginning a proselytising religion, 
Vaisnavism soon developed into a definite religious community 
with an organisation of its own and established the brother- 
hood of its adherents through the common fatherhood of the 
Lord and the common spiritual headship of the Acarya (the 
spiritual preceptor). The communal spirit was probably in- 
tensified by its rivalry with Saivism, Jainism and Buddhism ; 
an3 that spirit is not dead even to-day, although conciliating 
souls have suggested the devices of Harihara, the composite 
divinity, half Vismi and half Siva, 35 and Trimurti, the divine 
Trinity of Brahma, Visnu and Siva, to indicate the comple- 
mentary character of the major deities 36 and even gone to the 
length of identifying Siva and Visnu by making one a form 
of the other and ascribing the function of each to the other. 
But it was not without its advantages, because a common 
faith brought men closer together in weal and woe and 
established bonds of fellowship, sympathy and mutual help 

8eo Earth, The Religions of India, p. 185. Sir Charles Eliot, op. eft., 
n, p. 193. For the popularity of this combined deity in the ancient Indian colonies 
in the Far East, see Bijan Baj Chatterji, Indian Cultural Influence in Cambodia, 
p. 61 :" The cult of Hari-hara seems to have been popular in Kambuja, as there 
are many images of the combined deities still existing " (see also p. 52). The 
same was the case in Java. 

t Barth, op. cit. t p. 179 f. Hopkins points out that " the union of the three 
highest gods into a trinity forms no part of epic belief " (Epic Mythology, p. (231). 
Trimurti was a favourite assemblage in Ancient Indian colonies like Cambodia 
(see B. B. Chatter ji, op. dt. 9 p. 105). Buddha sometimes replaced diva in this 
Trinity (see ibid., p. 188; also p. 261). A single image embodying the Trinity 
(as in the cave at Elephants near Bombay) is not rare in Java, 


among them. In the Caitanya school mutual helpfulness and 
collective devotion are the most outstanding features and the 
spirit of service and kindly feeling encompasses the whole of 
sentient creation. It is, therefore, pre-eminently a religion 
of love : its motto is the same as that of Christianity, " Peace 
on earth, goodwill towards men.'* It has not unreasonably 
been said that the cult of compassion and non-injury, preached 
by the three religions of Vaisnavism, 37 Jainism and Buddhism, 
is responsible for the loss of martial traditions in India and 
its subjection to foreign conquerors. Vaisnavism absorbed 
many martial as well as savage races within its fold during 
its march of conquest and thereby changed the whole tenor of 
subsequent civilisation in India. Killing in any form has now 
became abhorrent to Indian minds : in Vedic rites, in obla- 
tions to the manes, in the entertainment of guests and even in 
Sakti worship vegetables and cereals have entirely replaced 
animal oiferings 38 and the fish-eating Bengali and Sarasvata 
Brahmanas are looked down upon by the other Brahmanas of 
India although the older scriptural traditions are entirely in 
favour of the former. 39 Food-taboos were not unknown in 
Vedic times; but thanks to Vaisnavism, Jainism arid 
Buddhism, life in all its forms became sacred throughout 
the length and breadth of India in later times as a 
logical consequence of the message of universal compassion 

37 It haa been suggested that Vaigijavism fell in line with Jainism and 
Buddhism in order to convert the Jainas and the Buddhists near about the Mathurft 
region. See A. Avalon, Principles of Tantra, Vol. I, Introduction, p. xi. 

38 See Hopkins, Epic Mythology, pp. 209, 217 ; Sir Charles Eliot (Hinduism 
and Buddhism, II, p. 152) thus puts the Upanisadic origin of this cult : " The 
Upanisad does not refer to Krishna as if he were a deity, and merely says that 
he received from Ghora instruction after which he never thirsted again. The 
purport of it was that the sacrifice may be performed without rites, the various 
parts being typified by ordinary human actions, such as hunger, eating, laughter, 
liberality, righteousness, etc." He also thinks (pp. 159-60) that the prepondera- 
ting influence of Buddhism round about Muttra (Mathura, the seat of the epic 
hero) might be responsible for the milder rites of Vai^avism. (See also pp. 170-1). 

M The Vedic Aryans are a nation of meat-eaters, who appear to have had a 
general aversion to fish, since there is no direct mention of fishing in the Vedas, 
Sir John Marshall, Mahenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilisation, Vol. I, p. 111. 

See, however, ths story of Saraswata in MhB., Sal. Par., li. 85-48," 



by these religions, About its influence on national 
health, national outlook on war and national capacity to with- 
stand foreign aggression there may be some honest differences 
of opinion ; but there can be no doubt that practical bene- 
volence could go no farther and that if the nations of the world 
could be persuaded to beat their swords into ploughshares, to 
abandon all territorial ambitions and imperialistic designs, and 
not tp injure any living being wantonly for sport or aggression, 
their practical religion would not be very far from the 
Vaisnavism of India. 

What the spirit of religion can achieve with an unpro- 
mising material we shall now illustrate, by the history of 
Saivism, the rival of Vaisnavism as a popular religion. 40 
In popular Hindu religious worship offerings are made to 
Dharma (Law or Morality), Jfiana (Knowledge), Aisvarya 
(Power) and Vairagya (Dispassion or Detachment). 41 We 
may very well suppose that Varuna, Brahma, Visnu and Siva 
represent the essence or embodiment of these virtues respec- 
tively. Siva is the ideal Togin and, in his aspect 
of a meditative god, is the patron deity of San- 
nyasins. He lives far away from the haunts of 
men. His home is in the inhospitable mountains; 
he holds the Ganges in his matted locks ; his wife is a 
mountain-maid ; and his son Skanda was nursed by the six 
Krttikas (Pleiades) in a bed of reeds in the Himalayas. 42 
For arm-band, girdle and sacred thread he has snakes ; for 
his loin-cloth, the skin of a tiger (or elephant) ; for his vehicle, 

40 See Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 74 (Rudra); Hopkins, Epic Mythology, 
p. 219 f.; Sir B. G. Bhandarkar, Vaisnavism, Saivism and Minor Religious Systems, 
p. 103 f. ; Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, IV, Ch. HI; Keith, Religion and Philosophy 
of ike Veda and Upanishads t I, p. 142 f ; Sir Charles Eliot, op. *., II, p. 199. 

41 It is interesting to note that in Java a Caturailvarya mantra, addressed 
to Dbarma, Jfifina, Ailvary* and Vairagya represented as lions with white, red, 
black and yellow colours respectively was used. In fact, the Hindus, invoke their 
opposites also, viz., Adharma, Ajfi&na, Anailvarya and Avairagya, just as they invoke 
the goddess of small-pox (Sitalft) and the snake-goddess (Manasa) in order to be rid 
of their attacks and attentions. 

* Hopkins., Epic Mythology, p. 327. 


the bull j 48 and for his ear-tops the dhatura flower. When 
he is conceived as a dweller of the plains, he is pictured as 
living in cemeteries, wearing a garland of skulls and besmear- 
ing himself with ashes. He is reputed to have burnt the God 
of Love to ashes when the latter had dared to disturb his 
meditation. But, although noted for his anger, he is equally 
famous for his quick forgiveness and his ready bestowal of 
boons. He is directly accessible to all persons in all conditions, 
being in this respect the most democratic of the gods. Very 
simple offerings please him and a Brahmana is not always 
needed to officiate at the religious ceremony. 44 No complicated 
rituals grew up round his worship nor did extensive incarna- 
tion-myths gather round him. He does not disdain to mix 
with the lowest class, and when Arjuna fights with the incog- 
nito god the latter was dressed as a Kirata. Bhutas (ghosts) 
and people of the hill and the jungle are his companions. But, 
though unsocial in his outward behaviour, he is most benign, 
and demons as well as men have often got from him 
boons that puzzled and perturbed the gods. He is the friend 
of the entire creation too. When the churning of the ocean 
brought forth good things, the other gods appropriated them ; 
but when poison was thrown up, only Siva could and did 
swallow it and save creation-r-that is why he became blue- 
throated. 45 His terrible (ghora, bhairava, rudra) form is 
born when crime is committed or iniquity is performed, just 
as with his benign (aghora, iva, daksina) form he bestows 
blessings. He casts his terrible noose round dinners, and 

<3 Probably the Tibetan yak is meant (see Sven Hedin, Trans -Himalaya). 
But Mahenjo-Daro excavation* prove that the bull was the object of an extensive 
cult among the pre-Aryans from whom probably diva has been borrowed, tea 
Marshall, Mahenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilisation, p. 52 f. 

ER. xr. 32, art. 9AIV16M. 

UBftmayana, i. 45. This adjective comes down from Vedic times. See 
Vftjasaneyi Samhitft 16, 7, where he is called ' blue-ne?ked.' The mythologies! 
explanations are various. The blue throat is regarded as having been caused ty 
the swallowing of poison, the biting of TJtenas's snaky lodft, throttling by 
Nftrayana and smiting by India's axe (see Hopkins, Bpic Mythdtogy, p. 226). 
Keligious devotion in India has managed to forget all but the beneficent episode 
of ftwftllowing the poison. 


even the gods are not exempt from his moral government. 
Did he not tear off the fifth head of Prajapati who cast inces- 
tuous looks at his own daughter? 46 He is the lord (pati) of 
finite spirits (pa&i) ; he releases them from sin if they wor- 
ship him mentally, and he grants them salvation. If he is the 
ordainer of disease and death, he is also the great healer, 47 
being himself the conqueror of death (Mrtyunjaya). So, 
both for soul and for body, men need Siva's help, and the 
gracious god never fails to help those who sincerely seek his 
aid and banish from their minds anger and greed. 48 The 
Sveta6vatara Upanisad, in which a systematic attempt to 
sublimate his character was made, 49 describes him as a " god 
who has no parts, who does not suffer change, who is all 
peace, has no defects and is unpolluted, the bridge for cross- 
ing over to immortality/' He is described as being con- 
cealed in all beings, as all-pervading, " the internal soul of 
all beings, presiding over all actions, the support of all beings, 
the witness of all, the life-giver, absolute and without 
qualities." 60 He can be known only by bhava (faith, love or 
pure heart), 61 and to know Siva is to be free from all nooses 
and to attain eternal peace. The philosophical schools that 
arose in Kashmir and in the South all treat him as the 
ultimate principle of existence, and they all lay down rules 
about the way of obtaining salvation through him. In the 
true Bhagavata way Siva was regarded as the origin as well 
as the ultimate refuge of finite souls. 

Let us look for a moment now into the antecedents of 
a deity who divides with the different forms of Visnu tho 

<* In the Satapatha Brahmana ( the gods are depicted as being 
afraid of the strung bow and the arrows of Rudra, lest he should destroy them. 
Macdonell, V. M. t p. 76. 

tf At Tftrakelwar (Dist. Hughli, Bengal) there is a regular system of fasting 
at the door of the deity in order to obtain medicines for hopeless "ases "and almost 
incurable diseases. The tradition of being a healer comes down from Vedic times. 
See Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 76. 

4* For the Pa&ipata vow, see Bhandarkar, Vai?navism, Saiviim, etc., p. 112. 

See Bhandarkar, op* eft., p. 110. 

M Ibid., p. 109. 
p. 100. 


allegiance of the major portion of the Indian population and 
whose spiritual kingdom covered at one time the distant 
islands of the Indian archipelago and reached the shores of 
the Chinese Sea. The distribution of the adherents of Siva 
is significant they, in alliance with the followers of Gane^a 
and Sakti, formed at one time a ring round the worshippers 
of Visnu. 52 From Nepal, Tibet and Kashmir on the north 
we might travel down to Cape Comorin (and Bame^varam) on 
the south along the sea ccast and then travel up the 
Tamil land till we reach Bengal and Assam, practically with- 
out losing contact with the cult of some member of the 
Saivite household. The middle of this circle is mostly 
occupied by Vaisnavism. Although notable exceptions occur, 
yet it may be safely said that Saivism is more in contact 
with the original non- Aryan population of India than 
Vaisnavism which circulates in the heart of the Aryan 
settlement. 53 This distribution is quite in keeping w^th the 
historical origin of the creed. If the remains of the recently 
excavated Indus valley civilisation cit Mahenjo-Daro, Harapp'i 
and other places can be trusted to reveal the truth, the cult of 
Siva (both figured and phallic) is not an Aryan monopoly or 
even an Aryan discovery. 54 The original Aryan attitude 5 * 
towards the phallic symbol was definitely hostile, for in the 
Big-Veda Indra is invoked to keep off the &nadevas ** 

M See Muir, Or. Sans. Texts, IV, p. 241. 

B Eliot remarks (Hinduism and Buddhism, I, p. xxxvi) that " many legends 
in the Epics and the Purftnas indicate that there was hostility between the old- 
fashioned Brahmans and the worshippers of Rama, Krishna and Siva." 

WFor the prototype of Siva in pre-Aryan Indus valley civilisation, see Sir 
John Marshall, op. cit., p. 52 f. The phallus (with the yoni), the yoga attitude, 
the three faces, and the lordship over animals (paSupati) are all present in the 
archaeological remains (see p. 54). 

55 Bhandarkar thinks that the Linga-worship had not come into vogue at the 
time of Patanjali who refers to an image or likeness (pratikrtil of diva as an object 
of worship (op. cit., p. 115). After the discoveries at Mahenjo-Daro and other 
places it would simply mean that the Aryans were slowly accepting this mode of 

MMacdonell, op. cit., p. 155. There is some difference of opinion about the 
exact meaning of the word. Most writers agree that it means the worshippers 
of the phallus (Bhandarkar, Macdonell, etc.); but Bagozin thinks, perhaps wrongly, 


(devotees of the phallic cult) from the sacrifice, and the con- 
quest and carnage of Indra in the lands of the latter are 

There is no doubt that in the Vedas and in sub-Vedic 
literature (excepting, of course, the 3veta6vatara Upanisad), 
the terrible aspect of the deity was most in evidence. 67 
Although prayers for blessings, healing remedies, protection 
against the anger of and evil from other gods, and welfare 
for men and beasts are not unknown and his knowledge of 
the doings of men and gods and the ease with which he is 
invoked are referred to, the frequency with which malevolence 
is attributed to him and his fierceness described and feared,, 
makes it clear that the title of Siva (benign or auspicious) 58 
was only euphemistically used of him. " He is implored 
not to slay or injure, in his anger, his worshippers, their 
parents, children, cattle or horses." 59 All the most terrible 
substances enter into his composition 60 and he assails men 
with fever, cough (consumption), poison and celestial fire 
and is a veritable man-slayer. He leads a host (garni) 61 of 
equally ferocious beings who attack men and animals, and 
the prayers are directed to keep him and his band away. He 
is prayed to in later literature " for safe conduct when travers- 
ing a path, coming to a place where four roads meet, crossing a 
river, getting into a ferry boat, entering a forest, ascending 
a mountain, passing by a cemetery or by a cow-shed or such 

that it refers to serpent-worship (op. eft., p. 208). Both suggests the transition 
4 tailed (or priapic) demons * and Muir is not flare if phallic worship is meant 
(O.S.T., IV, p, 348). Sayana translates it as ' unchaste or fretful men ' free 
O.ff.T., IV, p. 847). Sir John Marshall remarks that " the belief in Nftgas it 
unknown to- the Vedic age " (Mahenjo-Daro, etc., Part I, p. 68. See art. Lifigo- 
pteana -by Vidhushekhar Bhattacharyya in the Prabasi (Bengali Monthly), Vol. 
XXXHI, p. 741 f. 

Macdonett,, V. Af., p. 76; Bhandarkar r Vaifnavism, 8aivi*m, etc., p. 103; 
Mui* r O.S.T., IV, p. 840. 

Vftf. Sam. 3. 62; 16. 41. 

*Macdonell, V.M. t p. 7*. 

*A.V. 3. 83.1. 

to Bhandarkar, Ftia*wm, latftm, to., p. 104; Bee Muir, O.4.T., V, 
p. 373 f. (quoting the Satarudrlya). 


other places." He and his followers received the omentum 
or the bloody entrails of the victim at a sacrifice and were 
thus treated on the same level as demons* He was even 
regarded as the patron of robbers and pilferers and as being 
similar to them in nature. No wonder, therefore, that in the 
Brahmanas and the Sutras Rudra should be isolated from the 
other gods, who are generally beneficent in character and 
disposition, and that it should be stated of him that when the 
gods attained heaven, Eudra remained behind. 68 

That Rudra did not exactly conform to the ideal of an 
Aryan god can be proved by a number of concurrent testi- 
monies. 63 The celebrated sacrifice of Daksa, 64 which ended 
so disastrously, was sought to be performed without Siva's 
presence and the violence with which it was broken up by 
Siva or his followers may be interpreted as a forcible 
entry into the Vedic pantheon by him. Apparently Siva 
had originally no share in the sacrifice 65 and this is alluded to 
in many places of the Mahabharata, 66 and references to his 
seizing the property of other gods are not infrequent.* 7 On 
the other hand, human offerings to Rudra are contemplated 
by Jarasandha (in the Sabhaparvan), 6 * and the later literature 
depicts in no uncertain manner the anti-Vedic propensities of 

8at. Br. 

K Tli* precise relation between diva and Budra is not yet satisfactorily 
traced out. The introduction of an entirely new divinity from the mountain* of 
the north has been supposed, who was grafted in upon the ancient religion by 
being identified with Budra ; or again a blending of some of Agni's attributes with 
those of Budra to originate a new development : perhaps neither of these may be 
necessary; Siva may be a local form of Budra, arisen under the influence of 
peculiar climatic relations in the districts from which he made bit way into 
Hindostan proper; introduced among, and readily accepted by, a people which, as 
the Atharva shows, was strongly tending toward a terrorism in it religion. 
Whitney, quoted by Muir, O.S.T., IV, p. 838. 

M Muir, O.S.T., IV, p. SL3 f. 

** The Paficaviinaa Brahmana (VII. 9. 16) alludes to the. exclusion of Budra 
when domestic animals were divided among the gods and also to bis character as 
the slayer of cattle. Eng. Tr. by C aland, p. 157. 

WBhandarkar, V.S., p. 113; Muir. O.S.T., IV, p. 314, 

w Muir, O.S.T., IV, p. 241. 

MJbtd., p. 946. Father H. Heras, in a lecture before the Bombay Branch 
of the Boyal Asiatic Society on 26th July, 1936 (as reported in the 449<m* of 
Calcutta of 5th August, 1986 Dftk edition), mentions the fact that human taorifices 
in batch** gf seven or multiple* of seven were offered fey the Mhea|o-Dejo people 


the followers of Siva. 69 His followers were mostly despicable 
in Aryan eyes ganas, bhutas, Kiratas, Nisadas, rogues, 
robbers and cheats ; TO his wife, too is painted in no attractive 
colours nor are her attendants and associates Sabaras, 
Varvaras and Pulindas less repulsive to the Aryan people. 71 
This persistent tradition of a savage association renders it 
extremely probable that Eudra of all the Vedic gods was 
thought to be similar to some savage deity and that his worship 
was instituted on savage models at first. That non-Brah- 
manas could worship Siva (and sometimes Brahmanas could 
not worship the phallic symbol) is an additional evidence in 
this direction. 72 Some obscure verses of the Paflcavimfa- 
Brahmana probably allude to the absorption of the followers 
of Budra within the Aryan fold by permitting them to recite 
some Vedic verses. It is also permissible to think that in the 
interesting Brahmana stories about his successively getting 
from Prajapati his present epithets 74 Budra, Sarva, Patiupati, 
Ugra, A6ani (Bhima), Bhava, Mahan-deva (or Mahadeva), 
TSana epithets that apply half (Budra, Sarva, Ugra, ASani) 
to the terrible and half (Bhava, Pagupati, MaMn-deva, TSana) 
to the benign aspect, 76 we have probably the story of a gradual 
progression of Siva towards ultimate supremacy, after an 
intermediate identification with Agni, Vayu, Parjanya, 
Prajapati (or Soma-Candramas), Tndra and Aditya (Surya) 
had transferred to him some of the attributes of these other 
gods. 76 But while, on the one hand, identification with 

to the god who had the trident, the axe and the snake as his associates and who 
was presumably the prototype of Siva. 

Muir. O.S.T., TV, pp. 320-21. 

WJWa., p. 273. 

71 Ibid., pp. 369, 370 (quoting Harivaips'a). 

7*Jb*., p. 844 (f.n.), 317. 

73 Paficaviinfo Brfthmana, XVII, 1.1 (Bng. Tr. by Caland, p. 454). See 
Winternitz, op. cit., I, p. 164. 

WMuir, O.S.T., IV, p. 283 f.; 286 f.; p. 342. (The identifications are slightly 
different in the datapaths and S&nkh&yana Brahmanas.) 

75 Bhandarkar, Vai$navism t Saivism, etc., p. 105. 

76 Kudra'a description tallies most approximately with that of Agni. So also 
does that of his wife who bears names denoting fire its flames, smoke y rtc. 

Father Heras, in the lecture referred to in footnote 68 above, mentions the 
interesting fact that the Mahenjo-Daro supreme god An also possessed eight forms 


beneficent deities ennobled Budra's character, his similarity to 
some non-Aryan divinity, on the other, led to the transference 
to him of some of the repulsive features of the latter, and 
not only was the darker Vedic side retained but it was actually 
accentuated by the addition of savage traits from non-Aryan 
sources, till Eudra came to be regarded as unfit for heavenly 
company, frequenting cemeteries, besmearing himself \vith 
ashes, smoking narcotics, wearing repulsive apparel and 
ornament, and forcing his entrance into the Vedic pantheon 
with the help of turbulent followers who threatened to stop 
the sacrifice to the other gods. The latter identification also 
led not only to easy unconventional worship but probably 
introduced the originally condemned phallic cult into the 
Aryan religion. 

We shall close our account of Saivism with a reference 
to this phallic cult in order to remove some misunderstandings. 
We may admit at the outset that just as the guilty love of 
Krsna, when dwelt upon in excess of religious need, may lead 
to corrupt thoughts, so also an immoderate pre-occupation 
with the sexual symbol of Siva may lead to orgiastic rites, 
especially when complicated by extreme Sakta tendencies. 
Sanskrit literature is unfortunately not altogether free from 
lascivious descriptions of the divine amours of Krsna and 
Siva, although it may .be admitted at the same time that they 
might have been more considerable without the religious 
restraint. But sex-symbols have a less activating effect on 
imagination and action in a country where climatic conditions 
enforce a semi-nudity on its male inhabitants during the hot 
months and where traditions cf austerity and detachment have 
made even the complete nudity of the ascetic followers of some 
religious sects not a thing of shame. In fact, the Buddhist 
monks alone were directed to be decently dressed in ancient 
times, as contrasted with Jaina monks cf the Digambara sect 
and Hindu sannyasins whose ideal of perfecticn was complete 
apathy to their physical environment and their social sur- 

and was identified with the sun which passed each year through the constellations 
of the Zodiac, then regarded as only eight in number as against our present twelve. 



roundings. The origin of the Linga (phallus) was not due in 
India to vegetation myths or to esoteric obscenity nor was the 
sexual symbol the earliest representation of Siva. 77 The 
earliest references like the Mahdbhdrata and the Vdyu-Ptirdna 
ascribe its origin to Siva discarding his organ of generation 
and becoming a yogin, when other gods had been found to 
undertake the task of creation. The shedding of the linga 
was thus symbolic of abstention from creative activity and its 
worship, therefore, an adoration of sexual restraint. 78 The 
other story that Siva killed Kama (Cupid) when the latter 
attempted to disturb his meditation confirms the tradition of 
his conquest over sexual passion. It is almost certain also 
that in the earliest Brahmanic literature the linga (the male 
genital) was not associated with a yoni (the female genital) 
and that the linga became a procreation symbol later when 
the yoni was added. 79 This changed conception about 
the sexual symbol was reflected also in iconographic repre- 
sentation, and ArdhanarLSvara images, combining Siva and his 
spouse ParvatI in their half-figures, made their appearance. 80 
The wives of the Vedic gods were shadowy figures by the side 
of their husbands ; but the increasing association of Sakti 
with Siva shows that equality of the female with the male 
was a trait of the people from whom the Siva-Sakti cult was 
derived or, if two independent cults fused into one, their 
gods, male in one case and female in another, had already been 
developed too much on monotheistic lines into supreme deities 
to be subordinated to each other in the new synthetic creed. 

HBhandarkar, op. cit. t p. 115. Patafijali refers to images of diva being 
sometimes made of precious metals. See p. 228 infra. 

78 Creation was often conceived in terms of procreation even in Vedic times 
See Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, pp. 11-12. See also p. 221, f.n. 54, supra. 

w Most of the Paur&nic references to the sexual aspect of the Linga are to 
be found in Nagendranath Vasu's Vifaako&a (Bengali Encyclopedia). XVIT, 
p. 256 f. (under art. LI&GA. In the Bigveda the fire-drill in the. wood (a rant) 
rouses associations of procreation because it resembles the phallus in the yoni. 

*> Even Harihara 'figures have been sexually explained. See the VitvakoSa 
article referred to in the last footnote. 

Father Heras, in the lecture referred to in footnote 68 above, suggests that 
the combination of the Mahenjo-Daro god An with the goddess Amma (the mother) 
might have been the original of the Saivite Hara-PftrvatE figure of the ArdhanftrlSvara 


Just as in the worship of the Trinity, when not complicated 
by sectarian bias, no godhead is really subordinate to the 
other two, so also in the composite Siva-Sakti cult an attempt 
was made to recognise both the gods as complementary to each 
other and neither as subordinate to the other. 81 It is not 
unlikely that a polyandrous social organisation and an exten- 
sive Mother-cult 82 provided the soil for the equality of the 
female principle with the male and that both the Vedantic 
Maya and the Samkhya Prakrti were pressed unconsciously 
or consciously into the service of the Siva-Sakti cult. 83 

Let us return, however, to Siva. Liiiga, in the sense 
of that which is destroyed or which is ultimately dissolved, 
is a fairly ancient term. 84 It is permissible for us tcx speculate 
that the destructive aspect of Eudra, which ultimate- 
ly made Siva the third person of the Hindu Trinity, would 
receive the epithet linga,' and then, by the principle of 
symbolisation or visual representation (which Freudian 
psychology has now familiarised to us in the domain of 
dreams), the representation would take the form of the other 
meaning of linga, namely, sexual organ. It is not improba- 
ble that by a similar process of transference the epithet 
sthanu, which means immobile existence, was transferred to 
the immobile ascetic god rooted at one spot like a post or a 
bare tree-trunk (the other meaning of sthanu). 95 In fact, 

81 This might explain why in Tantra literature diva and Devi (daktij are 
both revealera of spiritual truths the former of A-gamas and the latter of Nigamas. 
See A. Avalon, Principles of Tantra, p. Ixi. This might also explain the 
Ardhanftrftvara figure (the androgynous diva). 

8> Speaking, for instance, of the village gods of South India, Bishop Whitehead 
remarks : " Speaking generally, in the Hindu pantheon the male deities are pre- 
dominant and the female deities occupy a subordinate position. This is characteristic 
of the geniis of the Aryan religion, hut in the old Dravidian cults a leading feature 
ws the worship of the female principle in nature." (The Village Gods of South 
India, p. 17 ; see also* Index of the Gods, p. 167, in support of the above.) 

83 See Wilson, Sketch of the Religions of the Hindu Sects, p. 151 f. 

** See, for instance, Kvarakrgna's Sfiipkhya-kftrikfi, 10. 

Just as death and the God of death are both denoted by the term mrtyu, so 
also destruction and the God of destruction may both be called lihga. The other 
meaning of lihga, viz., subtle (as in lihgatanra}, may also be implied. 

85 It is not improbable that this immobility is responsible for the rule that a 
Siva-lmga, once fixed, should on no account be removed .MahanirtanH Tantra 
(Eng. Tr. by A. Avaion), Oh. XIV, 98. 


tiie Vayu-Purana account, which depicts Yisnu as digging 
into the ground as a boar to discover the root and Brahma as 
flying in his swan-vehicle to find the top of the Linga, 86 has 
the tree-analogy in mind (and the comparison of God with a 
tree is pretty old in Indian religious literature). 87 Worship- 
ping a tree as a symbol of the five-faced god (Pancanana or 
Siva) is not yet a dead village-cult in Bengal. If the linga 
Bad originally a sylvan origin (and Siva's association with 
forest tribes does not rule that possibility entirely out), the 
phallic cult in India in its original conception could be easily 
related to the worship of sacred stakes, trees or groves which, 
according to Grant Allen, is one of the origins of gods, 88 and 
would thus resemble the Hebrew asherah. But the hilly 
association is so persistent that possibly the cult of the liriga 
could be more easily related to the worship of sacred stones, 
practised at one stage of culture by all nations of the world. 
Still, even in that case, it is possible to agree with Grant 
Allen that " the standing stone may have been and often was, 
in later stages, identified with a phallus " and that " the 
lingam, instead of lying at the root of the monolith, must 
necessarily be a later and derivative form of it." 89 Specula- 
tive minds could easily see that there was an obvious advan- 
tage in using a shapeless stone as the proper symbol of one 
whom philosophy had described as formless by nature. 90 
The Saiva linga and the Vaisnava jalagrama are both 

88 Vayu Parana, Ch. 55 ; Linga Pur ana, I, 17, 5-52. The episode is inscribed 
in stone at the Minftkal Temple. Madura, as also in Hoa-Qnd Stelae Inscription 
of Bhadravarman III (of Champa), dated 831 Saka year. (See E. C. Majumdar, 
Ancient Indian Colonies in the Far East, Vol. I, Champa, p. 175, Bk HE, p. 116.) 

WKatha Lp. 6.1; Bh. G. 15.i'-8. 

88 See Grant Allen, Evolution of the Idea of God, Ch. VI (Sacred Stakes) 
and Ch. VII (Sacred Trees). Some have traced the origin of the linga to the 
ytipastambha, the sacrificial poM;. -See. The Proceedings of the Convention of 
Religions in India, 1009, Vol. II, p. 124;' f.n. 6. 

Sir John Marshal] describes tree-worship among the pre-Avyan population, 
from whom the phallic cult might have been taken, in Mahenjo-Daro and 'fee Indus 
Civilisation, Fart I, p. 63 f . 

8* Grant Allen, op. ctt., pp. 73-74. 

wit is not improbable that Muhammadan iconoclasm is responsible for the 
linga and other shapeless forms in North India ao more likely to escape notice or 
less likely to offend Islamic susceptibilities, while the absence of continuous Muham- 
madan hostility in South India made images more frequent there. 


shapeless stones, 91 and it is not very unlikely that the so-called 
Svayambhu linga, or pebble rounded and shaped by the forces 
of nature, was the original form under which Siva was 
worshipped. The fact that both in India and in the Far 
Eastern Hindu colonies lingas with one or more faces carved 
at the top (mukhalihga images) 92 have been discovered shows 
that the phallic association was not obtrusive in the popular 
mind. It has been almost universally admitted, moreover, 
that the atmosphere of a Saiva temple is intensely 
religious, if not puritanic, and that the orgiastic rites, which 
one would expect of crude phallisin, are absent in India even 
though the temples are frequented by men and women together 
in large numbers and, except in very orthodox South Indian 
temples, all have direct access to the divine symbol. 95 It has 
been admitted by ail, for instance, that the Lingayats, who 

l Speaking of the Smarta method of worshipping the five sectarian gods 
(Siva, Visnu, Sakti, Surya and Ganete), Farquhar writes thus : " The worship of 
the five gods in Pancayatana Puja is observed at home. Images or stone and 
metal symbols, or diagrams, or earthenware pots, may be used to represent the 
divinities. The image or symbol of the god whom the worshipper prefers 13 placed 
in the centre, and the other four are so set as to form a squaie around the central 
figure." He then adds the following footnote : " The more usual symbols are : 
Vishnu, the Salagrama pebble ; diva, the tiarmadesvara pebble; the Devi, a pieo* of 
metal, or the Svarnarekhd stone found in a river in- South India; Surya, a round 
piece of Suryakanta, i.e., sun-stone, or of sphafrka, i.e., crystal; Ganesa, the 
Svarnabhadra, a red slab from a stream near Arrah." J. N. Farquhar, Outlines of 
the Religious Literature of India, p. 293. 

wit was a regular custom with the kings of Ghampft to instal these 
mukhalingas, to carve a lace like their own at the top to indicate their unity and 
identity with the godhead aa preached by the Vedanta and to name them after 
themselves as lord of BO and so. See 11. C. Majumdar, Champa, p. 186. This 
probably follows earlier Indian models. Bee Eptgraphia Indica, XXI, p. 7 
(D. K. Bhandarkar, Mathura Pillar Inscription of Chandragupta II : 6. E. 61). 

Even in M.Bh. four-mouthed Mahalinga is referred to. (See A. Avalon, 
Principles of Tantra, p. lii.) Iconographic representations of Sakti appearing from a 
fiiva-liuga are not unknown (see Bhattasali, op. ctt., p. 192). 

93 As Sir John Marshall puts it : "In mediaeval and modern India it is only 
very rarely that lingas take at all a naturalistic form. Ninety-nine per cent, of 
them are so conventionalised that most people would find a difficulty in recognizing 
their phallic character. "Op. ctt., p. 60. " Nothing is more likely than that, as 
fiaivism developed, it largely absorbed the older bactylic worship and appropriated 
its symbols to phallic worship. This would explain why the vast majority of 
medieval and modern lingas are fashioned more like bactylic cones than phalli." 
Ibid., p. 61. The corrupt taste of Orissan sculptors, however, is reflected not only 
in obscene decorations of the temples at Puri and Konarak but also in naturalistic 
representations > of the phallus in some temples at BhuvanesVara. 

230 ^ B UNirr Qfr SIVA 

are under a religious obligation to carry a small linga in a 
reliquary hung round the neck, 94 are noted for the purity of 
their worship (and they worship no images). It is well to 
remember that in the Mahabhdrata words like urdhva-lihga 
and urdhva-retas, used of the god of the phallus, bring out 
the sense of sexual restraint even in the original conception 
of the symbol. 95 

It has been observed by many writers that the Saivas 
form a far more compact sect than the Vaisnavas. Two 
reasons have been suggested to account for this fact. The 
one is that, although there are differences in the philosophies 
of the various Saivite sects, the god worshipped is one. 
Vaisnavism worships the supreme God under many names 
Narayana, Krsna (with or without Radha), Kama and the 
sects and sub-sects are not always on the. best of terms, as if 
the gods worshipped are different and behave like rivals for the 
affection of the devotees. Siva or Paupati is a single god, and, 
even when different names and forms are ascribed to him, no 
rival sects worship these different forms. The antisocial aspect 
of the god has attracted some morbid minds, and the existence 
of at least two sects Kapala and Kalamukha, noted for their 
practice of what society would consider to be revolting and 
unethical, indicates what the possibilities of the darker side 
of Saiva religion are ; but these two sects worship the same 
god as the other Saivites do. The eight forms of the deity 
Sarva, Bhava, Eudra, Ugra, Bhima (or A6ani), PaSupati, 
Mahan-deva (or Mahadeva), Igana have no separate 
biographies, and his five faces 96 Iana (or SadaSiva), 
Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusa and Sadyojata on the top, 

w Wilson, Sketch, etc., p. 199. Far qu bar, op. cit., p. 261. See Bhandarkar, 
op. cit., p. 135, for the different conceptions of Linga in the Lidgftyat or Vtra-foiva 

95 The Mahenjo-Daro three-faced (and also three-eyed, says Father Heras in 
his lecture referred to in footnote 68 above) God who is regarded by Marshall as a 
prototype of the historic diva is probably urdhvametyra although in a yoga attitude 
If the figure has been correctly made out (there is some doubt about it still), the 
erect position of the sexual organ is not priapic but symbolic of the reverse function, 
i.e., sexual restraint. (See Marshall, op. cit., p. 52.) 

M Eliot, op. cit., II, p. 198. diva with more or less faces is also known. If the 
Elephanta cave figure is not of the Trimurti but of diva alone, then this will 
correspond to the three-faced prototype of diva of the Mahenjo-Daro excavation. 

VI?U AND 8IVA 231 

north, south, east and west sides respectively, indicate the 
single deity's power of superintendence in all directions. 97 
No wonder, therefore, that Advaitism should be the favourite 
philosophical creed of the Saivites, and their religion mono- 
theistic. Siva has no avataras as Vi&m has ; hence it is 
easier to think of him as eternal. The Bhagavadglta refers 
to the many previous births of the Lord Krsna and the differ- 
ent avataras, again, have not always come with plenary 
power and inspiration, many of them having been obliged 
to seek earthly alliances to overthrow their adversaries. But, 
although Siva has his band of terrible followers, he always 
acts direct without assuming an earthly figure. 98 We might 
even go so far as to assert that he has been more democrati- 
cally conceived than other gods : he has been given a perma- 
nent earthly residence in Mount Kailasa, though references to 
his heavenly home in Sivaloka are not absent. Brahma 
and Visnu, even when resting in the ocean of milk 
the one on the navel-lotus of the other, are farther 
away from the land of mortals and they are more 
often thought of as residing in heaven than on ecirth. 
We may also see in Vaisnavism and Saivism two opposite 
types of religious appeal. Vaisnavism claims allegiance 
on behalf of a god who periodically becomes man to share 
men's sorrows and bring succour to them in distress. 
Saivism, on the other hand, calls upon men to worship a god 
who is easily accessible but who does not at any time forsake 
his divinity and subject himself to human infirmities. 99 

w Other functions are also ascribed to these faces. Thus, according to one 
school of thought, the four Vedas came out of the four mouths and from the central 
mouth the Tantra of the higher tradition (urdhvdmndya) issued; according to 
another tradition, the twenty-eight Tantras of the higher tradition sprang from the 
upward current and issued from the five mouths while the Tantra of lower tradition 
has been produced by 4 the downward current ' ' below the navel.* See A. Avalon, 
Principles of Tantra, Vol. I, Introduction, p. xxx f. 

Brahmft has no avataras either ; but as he has no function of moral govern- 
ment, an avat&ra of Brahmft is unnecessary. Pugkara, the most noted earthly 
seat of Brahma, is a place noted for Brahm&'s own sacrifice rather than for people 
seeking his help there. 

For Lakull as incarnation of diva, see' J.B.B.K.A.S., XXII, p. 104 f; see 
also Ep. Ind., XXI, p. 5. 

99 We may quote Sir Charles Eliot in this connection : " Krishna is in the 


Both agreed, however, that the old Vedic religion of sacrifice 
had failed to satisfy the human heart and to, provide for weak 
and erring mortals who felt the need of forgiveness pro- 
ceeding out of divine grace and who had no faith in formal 
expiation achieved with ritualistic ceremony. Both, therefore, 
set God above the law of Karma and, while emphasising the 
necessity of a moral life lived in devotion to God and service 
to man, admitted the possibility of working off the injurious 
results of occasional lapses by sincere repentance through the 
forgiving grace of God. In both systems Bhakti was laid down 
as the essential condition of a religious life and the authority 
of the Vedas was slackened by the admission of non- Vedic 
authority as embodied in the sectarian literature. 100 Not 
only was provision made for a less formal mode of worship but 
the Sudras were also granted a right to use this sacred litera- 
ture in lieu of the Vedas, which they could net read, 101 and to 
worship God without the help of the Brahman a priest. The re- 
sult was immediately visible in a large extension of the Hindu 
community not only in India but also in the islands of the 
Indian Archipelago and in Kfimboja and Campa. Saivism, 
being still less trammelled by orthodox traditions than Yaw- 
navism, made more extensive conquests in these Far Eastern 
Hindu Colonies 102 and quickly fused with Mahayana Buddhism 
no* only there but also in Nepal. 103 The ugly features of the 
god were forgotten to satisfy the need of an ideal, and the 

main a product of hero worship, but diva has no such historical basis. He personi 
fies- the powers of birth and death, of change, decay and rebirth in fact all thai 
we include in the prosaic word nature." Hind, and Bud,. I, p. xvi. 

100 As the Kularnava Tantra says, for each age (yugd) a suitable Shastra 
is given namely, in Satyayuga, Shruti; in Tre'ft, Smriti; in Dv&para, the 
Purftnas ; and in the Kali age the Tantra. A. Avalon, Principles of Tantra, Vol. I, 
Introduction, p. xxii. See also A. Avalon, Tantra of the Great Liberation, p. 1. 

101 S. 8. Suryanarftyana Sastr! does not accept the view that the Saiva 
Agamas were non- Vedic and non-Aryan in origin. See The Sivadvaita of Srlkantha, 
Note D. The Agamas and the Mah&bh&rata (p. 81 f.). Also p. 4 f. for a discussion 
of the Dravidian origin of the Agamas. 

103 The greater hold of Saivism may also be due to the fact that the Tamils 
who emigrated to these places were mostly Saivites and Saivism had greater 
popular and royal backing in South India than Vaignavism at the time of the 

iw it i 8 still a matter of dispute as to whether fiaivism engulfed Mahftyfto* 
Buddhism or trie* <*. See A. Avalon, Principles of Tantra, Vol. If IB*.* P* 


hymns offered to Siva, as to Visnu, 104 are the purest expressions 
of monotheistic devotion. As a personal God, he is regarded 
not only as Mahakala, who destroys all creation, but also as the 
creator and preserver of the world ; the serene ascetic who sets 
an example of self-restraint ; the moral governor who* punishes 
sin and rewards virtue ; and the gracious Lord who forgives 
the penitent sinner, affords him fresh opportunities of a 
spiritual life and grants salvation to all his devout worship- 
pers. 105 The secret of the success of sectarianism in India 
lies in the fact that in India Philosophy and Beligion are far 
more intimately associated than anywhere else and the theory 
of the savant becomes the common belief of the popular 
mind within a short time. The Upanisads and the Vedanta 
system have established once for all the sole reality of 
Brahman, and every supreme god is identified with the 
Vedantic Absolute, with the attribute of personality added or 
emphasised. The other gods tolerated or recognised then 
become merely different forms of this supreme god, if not his 
creatures and attendants. Even when there is no predilection 
for any particular god, all the different gods are conceived to 
be ultimately one in essence, sharing among themselves the 
different aspects, attributes and functions of one supreme 

Extreme caution is needed in dealing with a faith like 
Hinduism which a writer does not live or see from within. 

104 For the All-god character of Vismi, see Hopk'ns, Epic Mythology, p. 207. 

105 Speaking of the greater appeal of the Nataraja image in South India and 
of the Maha-yogin image m North India, Havell makes the following fine observa- 
tion (Handbook of Indian Art, pp. 182-83) : 

11 In the pellucid air of the Western Ghats, washed clean by monsoon 
storms, the Brahman at his evening prayers heard day by day diva's drum, the 
time-beat of the ocean, thundering along the shore, and saw the golden snn 
throbbing on the western horizon as it ftank slowly into the jaws of the mysterious 
dragon of the nether world. So the Brahmanical art of Southern India is a true 
interpre f ation of Indian history and, like all true art, holds the mirror up to 
nature in revealing to us the beatific vision of the Universal Lord in his mystic 
Danje of Creation and Dissolution. And in like manner the calm serenity of those 
majestic peaks of the Himalayas in the still moon-lit nights, when every sound is 
hushed and all nature lies asleep, gave to the northern artist his inspiration for 
the image of the Lord upon His exalted Lotus-throne, the Great Spirit " brooding 
over the face of the waters " who is cause everlasting of the cosmic rhythm/ 1 



Historical treatment of a god may not reflect adequately often 
it totally misunderstands and misinterprets the spiritual 
evolution of man's ideas regarding that god. It is not difficult 
to point out in a religion, ennobled or degraded by the imagina- 
tion 106 of the inhabitants of a vast continent teeming with a 
heterogeneous population with different grades of culture, 
the shady past of a god or a mixture of light and shade in his 
character. What is more difficult is to understand and 
appreciate how the tribal memory manages to forget most of 
the unsavoury tales about a god in the same way as the indivi- 
dual mind represses its own unpleasant memories, If the idea 
of a moral god ennobles human ideals, so do advancing moral 
ideals raise the standard of divinity ; and this is what has 
actually occurred in India as elsewhere. 1 ^ It may be freely 
admitted that in a weak mind a bad divine example is some- 
times likely to find an imitator, just as it should also be ad- 
mitted that a bad prophetic example may similarly prove 
equally harmful . But such cases are bound to, be rare and are 
not likely to occur when the developing ethical sense of society 
eliminates the ugly features of a god. When society 
wills to turn the blind eye to the faults of a god and fastens 
upon and magnifies his good qualities, surprising results 
follow : every one of the major religions of India can be cited 
as an instance of what the will to believe can achieve in the 
nature of devotion and practice. Let us illustrate this point 
from the remaining religions of India. 

The five gods (paficadevata) who are supposed to have 
a following in India at present are Visnu, Siva, Sakti, Gane,4a 

**The degradation may sometimes be apparent, Thus it ha* been said 
that much of the opposition to dftktaism comes from a misunderstanding of the 
dsoteria Meaning of many apparently unmeaning mantra J and revolting ceremonial, 
of Wfeteh the spiritual significance can be learned only from a gyru after under- 
going a fairly strenuous moral discipline. 

*<ff K6ith, commenting on the decline of Varuna from a moral god in the 
V\sdaa to the god of waters in later literature, remarks that " in the fact of the 
failure of morality to develop itself as an important faster in the nature of the 
gads lies a deep distinction between Indian and other religions," CRua remark ii 
ft* s*$ ihg in view of the ethical development of the presently sectarian gods* 

, f, p. 3i7, 


and Sftrya. The last two, however, have a very small following 
although there are references to the existence at one time of 
as many as six classes of devotees of each of these gods. 168 Of 
these Sarya could not be personified to any very great extent ; 
and although a few myths about him were circulated, he 
remained mostly a Vedic god to whom the Brahmanas offered 
daily the twilight and mid-day oblations. A Magian immi- 
gration from Persia or Scythia (Sakadvlpa) probably popular 
ised his cult for some time and some fine temples were built to 
enshrine his images. But barring a few casual vetsefl, 
describing him as the soul of all movable and immovable things 
and as Brahman, there is nothing but Vedic tradition regard- 
ing Sflrya to justify the continuance of his worship. The longe- 
vity of the cult must be due to the fact that the solar worship 
comes nearest to the veneration for the glowing Agnl (and 
Sarya is a form of Agni) which was such a prominent feature 
of the Vedic religion and that it alone represents whatever 
has been left of the Vedic religion, the cult of all the other 
gods having developed non- Vedic features of worship. The 
Solar cult is therefore a survival of Vedic worship probably 
of Indo-Iranian worship, and the GSyatri (familiar to scholars 
in its derivative appellation Savitri), daily recited by the twice- 
born of India, is an invocation addressed to the Sun. It is 
probable that while Visnu appropriated the personal aspect of 
godhead and its relation to man, its impersonal element and 
its function of supporting the physical world were assigned 
to Surya. He is the great source of life and health. He 
wit&aMBfl man'0 deeds from above and the powers of darkae** 
all vanish in his presence. 1 * He sets the example of regularity 
and beneficence to human conduct, always rising and setting 
at the appointed time and helping the circulation Of water in 
the atmosphere. His- benignity extends to saints and sinners 
alike, for on both he casts his vivifying rays. He quickens 
the intellect and forgives sins juat as he heals the body, 11 * 

i Bhwrfarkar, op. tit., pp. 149 and 102. 
Hopkins, topic Mythologi. p. 64. 

no Tradition credits, Krwa'a son Stab*, who wms cured of leprosy by wor* 
topping the fit*, with the importation of Magian priests to India lor conducting 


He is supposed to have revealed the Yajurveda, and Manu is 
regarded as having derived both his existence and his wisdom 
from him. Yama, " the lord of righteousness " (dharma- 
raja), is his son in later mythology 111 and he is also the pro- 
genitor of the race in which Kama was born. If one carefully 
scans the beliefs of this Solar sect, one would find that the 
choice has fallen on such aspects of the god as could be 
spiritually and ethically used. Again, the multiplicity of 
forms in which the Sun was worshipped in the Vedic age 112 
Mitra, Surya, Aryaman, Savitr, Pusan, Visnu, Vivasvat, 
Aditya was abandoned in later times, and, with the excep- 
tion of Visnu, all the other forms were rolled together to form 
the conception of a unitary Solar deity raised, in sectarian wor- 
ship, to the position of a supreme god, pure, omnipotent, omni- 
present and omniscient, upholder of regularity and righteous- 
ness, beneficent and forgiving. That the cult lacked vigour, 
in spite of royal support, 113 is due to the fact that a deification 
of the visible luminary is difficult except in primitive times 
and such a cult could thrive only as a survival of ancient 
belief, modified and allegorised to suit the monotheistic and 
moral needs of an advanced religious community. The solar 
cult in India, however, never grew to such dimensions as 
Mithraism in the nearer West ; and in later times it was 
assimilated into the cult of the Trinity, the morning, 
the noon and the evening sun being identified with Brahma, 
Visnu and Siva respectively. 114 

the worship of the Sun on account of the unwillingness of the local Brahmans to 
officiate at his Solar temple on the bank of the Candrabhfiga as regular priests. 
(Bhandarkar, op. cit. t p. 152; see Bhattasali, op. cit., p. 166.) 

Ill Yama is the son of Vivasvat in BV. 10, 14.5; 17.1 just as Yima is of 
Vivahvant in Avestan literature. 

11* See Macdonell, Vedic Mythology, p. 29 f. Farquhar, An Outline of the 
Religious Literature of India, p. 151 f. ; Barth, op. cit., pp. 19, 20. 

H3 On Kanaka's coins a figure with the name Miiro (Mihira=Per8. Mithras 
Sans. Mitra) is to be found. HarBavardhaiia and his immediate ancestors styled 
themselves as " great devotees of the Sun." Bhandarkar, op. cit., pp. 154-55. The 
cult was, very popular in Bengal where a large number of Sun-images has been 
found and where the Varman and Sena kings called themselves S auras. Bhattasali, 
op. cit., p. 166. 

11* See Tantratattva (En*. Tr. by A. Avakm, Vol. II), Part II, Ch. XJ, p. 1 f. 


A more instructive example of the working of the spiritual 
sense is afforded by the development of the cult of the other 
god, viz., Ganega. 115 Being originally the lord of the ganas, 
i.e., the wild and terrible followers of Budra, namely, the 
Maruts, he could not have possessed at first attractive features 
of character and, in fact, down to the time of the Mahdbharata, 
the malevolent demons, the Vinayakas, could be traced. 116 
The Ganegvaras, Ganapatis and Vinayakas were originally 
many in number, being identified with the lords of malevolent 
spirits who were present everywhere ; but latterly their 
number was fixed at four (or six) and possession by them was 
supposed to work sure evil, which could be prevented only by- 
exorcising them by appropriate ceremonies. 117 But the 
religious need of man can work wonders. These malevolent 
spirits were reduced to a unity and a single Ganapati or 
Vinayaka was raised to supreme godhood with all the func- 
tions appropriate to it. Whether casual identifications of 
Brhaspati, Indra and Visnu with Ganapati, the lord of a host, 
helped the process of transformation it is difficult to say ; 118 
but certain it is that, in spite of the survival of such a wild 
trait as an elephant's head, Gane^a became transformed into 
an ideal of wisdom and beneficence. It may be that the invoca- 
tion of Gane&i at the beginning of every non-Vedic religious 
worship is meant to have the same effect as the ceremony of 
sending away the demons, also observed as a preliminary 
rite ; 119 but piety looks upon it with a different eye and sees in it 
the supremacy of Gane^a over all other gods. His figure and 
name are to be found in most Bengali shops, as he is supposed 
to give success (siddhi) m in all undertakings, and his wisdom 

* For the worship of GaQ6&, see Mahanirvana Tantra, Ch. X, 113 f. (Tr. 
by A. Avalon, p. 250.) 

116 Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 207. 

H7 Ehandarkar, op. ctt., p. 147. 

us Macdonell, 7.M., p. 101. Bhandarkar, op. cit., p. 147; Hopkins, Epic 
Mythology, p. 207. 

u* Even though bhuta-suddhi does not always mean the sending away of 
demons, there is a bhutapasarana (demon-removing) mantra for this purpose. (See 
Avalon, Tantra of the Great Liberation, Int., p. cvi.) 

MO i n the characteristic popular way Siddhi, which means in Sanskrit 
' Success/ was transformed into a pouch of eannabis indica (which is another 
meaning of the Bengali word ' Siddhi ') in GanesVa hand, just as Prajapati, the 


is symbolised by the reed (vi&ikliaha) he carries in his charac- 
ter of the scribe cf the gods, who, in fact, even condescended to 
take down the dictation of the MaMbharata by Vyasa on condi- 
tion that if Vyasa did not stop anywhere in the middle of his 
composition he (GaneSa) would not write down a single verse 
without understanding its meaning. Though his sonahip to 
Siva (Budra) betrays his origin, his later developments serve to 
show how the religious mind can transform almost intractable 
materials into lovable figures and to change a troublesome 
spirit into " the genial protector of households and the 
personification of common sense, whose aid should be first 
invoked in all worldly enterprises/' 121 

The same process is at work in the Sakti cult, although 
there the original form is not so definitely anti-divine. 122 The 
Aryan aspect of the Sakti cult is more allied to the creative 
side, while the non-Aryan contribution is probably more 
concerned with the destructive side of the divine nature. The 
Aryan prototypes of Sakti are the originally colourless wives 
of the Vedic gods, 123 who were latterly invested with the func- 
tion of energising their lethargic husbands and, in fact, of 
using them as the instruments of their creative activity. 
Then there are Aditi, 124 the great mother out of whom all 
creation comes; Maya, without whose association 
Brahman is unable to create; and Prakrti, which 
alone brings this varied world into being while 
Purusa behaves as an inactive spectator of the world- 
drama. It would be interesting to know if the belief in the 
destructive aspect of a Mother-Goddess was a satire upon the 
increasing disinclination to kill among the Aryans as a result 
of Jaina, Bauddha and Vai?nava teachings and embodied a 
vision of days when, should men become effeminate, women 

lord of creation, who is invoked in letters of invitation to marriages, takea the 
form of a butterfly which is another meaning of the Bengali word ' Prtjftpati.' 
(For the more usual articles in the hands of Ga^esa, see Bhattasafi, op. ct't.. 
p. 145 f .) 

MI Havell, op. eff. t p. 191. 

itt Bee N. K. Bhattasali's Iconography of Buddhist and Brahmanical Sculptures 
in the Dacca Museum, p. 178 f. for Vedic references. 

i* See Keith, Rel. and Phil, of the Veda and Upaniihtd*, Vol. I, p. 919. 

M Ibid., p. 215 f. 


would become manlike and destroy all evil threatened from 
enemies and savages. Possibly the mother-cult came from 
people worshipping female spirits of dark intentions who were 
propitiated by suitable offerings. We still have among us 
such " negative " goddesses as Sitala, the goddess of small- 
pox, and Manasa, the goddess of snakes, who are prayed to 
not so much for granting the worshipper any good as for leav- 
ing him alone in peace. The fire-association of many of the 
names of Sakti 125 may also be due to the fact that it is in con- 
nection with huge forest-fires, where a veritable holocaust of 
animals would take place, that the cult arose. Corresponding 
to the qanas a troop of female furies was associated with Devi, 
the Sakti of Siva. The tradition that she had her home in the 
Vindhyas and was fond of flesh and wine and that her 
devotees were hilly tribes would point to an admixture of 
aboriginal worship in her cult. 126 In her terrible forms of 
Kali, DurgH (or Mahisamardim), Candl and Camundft she 
has exacted the homage of her worshippers as a proper consort 
of Eudra or Mahakala. Her insatiable blood-thirst has 
been symbolised by the Chinnamasta image, in which she is 
depicted as a decapitated female figure holding the severed 
head in her hand and sending up a fountain of blood into her 
own mouth. There is no doubt that the cult is a composite 
one 127 and that both Vedic and non-Vedio elements have 
entered into its structure. 

Here, again, has devotion achieved wonders. The unerring 
human instinct, which finds in the mother the first tender 
source of satisfaction of its hunger and thirst, felt the need of 

US See Mtmd. Up. 1. 9. 4 for the names of the seven tongues of Are (the 
first two are Kftlt and Karftlt). 

i* See Bbandarkar, op. eft., p. 148; see Bhattasali, op. fit., p. 127. 

1W Muir observe? aa follows : "As in diva, first of all two gods, Agni nnd 
Rudra, are combined, so too his wi*e is to be regarded as a compound) of several 
divine forms, and this becomes quite evident if we took over the mast of her 
epithe's. While one set of these, Uma, Arabikl, Parvatr, HaimavatI, belong 
to the wife of Rudra, others an Kali, Karatt carry us back to the wife of Agni, 
while Gaurl and others perhaps refer to Nirriti, the goddess of all evil. "0.0.7'., 
IV, Ch. Til, See. viii. For Vaisnava association, see Arjuna's hymn to Ttarg in 
M.Bh., Bhlsmaparvan, 796 f., and also Virfttaparvan, 178 f., *nd Harivaipia, 8286 f. 
(See Muir, ibid., p. 868 f. and p. 861, f.*, 387.) See Hopkins, tyfe 



a similar divine being who would take greater pity on human 
failing and suffering than a stern Heavenly Father. God 
as Mother could fulfil at least two of the conditions of 
divinity, viz., creation and preservation, if the human mother 
is to be taken as an earthly analogue. Only there may be some 
doubt about her capacity to destroy. The cruel and destructive 
aspect of Sakti served to show that if due occasion should arise, 
she would not be found wanting even in that capacity either : 
possibly .there was an element of over-compensation in the 
process and the terrifying colours were painted more thick than 
necessary. 128 But the primary interest must Imve been the 
need of a female god to whom the sinner could unburden his 
soul more fully than to a male deity and with surer chance of 
forgiveness. In Vaisnavisin where Laksmi remained to the end 
a devoted wife, sho is prayed to for interceding 129 on behalf of 
the sinner and securing the relenting grace of her husband. 
But Devi or Sakti is a far more independent deity 130 from the 
beginning and she herself absolves the sinner from his guilt out 
of motherly affection. In popular hymns fervent prayers go up 
to her to forgive her foolish and erring sons as all good mothers 
are wont to do. We thus reach the position that Sakti is not 
an intercessor but the supreme divinity herself. 

According to the philosophical view that Sakti (energy) 
and Saktimat (the being possessing the energy) are non-distin- 
guishable (abhinna) it is not possible to keep Siva and Sakti 
separate Siva (or Brahma or Visnu) cannot act without 
Sakti and therefore the two are identical. Here is a quotation 
from a Tamil Saiva saint, Arul Nandi, where Sakti is not 
absolutely independent of Siva but is an expression of his 
powers. " She, who is T6a's krpafakti (grace), icchatakti 
(will), kriyafakti (action), jftanafakti (knowledge), who is 
the cause of all creation, sustentation and destruction, who is 

in Cruelty associated with a mother-cult is not present in Hinduism alone. 
See Eliot, Hinduism and Buddhism, II, p. 276. 

itt See B. N. Seal, Comparative Studies in Vaiynavism and Christianity; see, 
however, Tattvatraya (Chowkhamba Ed.)t p 98, where Malialakpnl appears in an 
opposite role. 

For the increasing importance of Laks.mi in later Vaisgavism and its causes 
see H. C, Baychaudhuri, op. cit. t p. 106. 

UO Keith, Eel. and Phil, of the Veda and Upaniahads, I, p. 21& 


riipa (form) and arupa (formlessness) and neither, who is the 
consort of I6a in these forms, who is all this world and all this 
wealth, who begets the whole world and sustains them : the 
Gracious Feet of this our Mother, who imparts blissful im- 
mortality to souls, and removes their bondages of birth and 
who remains seated with our Father in the hearts of the 
Freed, let me lift upon my head." 151 But it is possible to go 
beyond this stage and to think that Sakti is the support of the 
whole universe and Brahma, Visnu and Siva are only forms 
assumed or created by Sakti to fulfil different cosmic functions. 
This is mythically represented by Siva, Visnu and Brahma 
being made to be the children of Sakti who then chooses Siva as 
her spouse, 132 presumably because destruction is a more palp- 
able expression of energy than creation and preservation. 
When this conception is reached. Sakti becomes identified with 
Brahman, the formless Absolute from which all things proceed 
and in which all things are dissolved. Numerous passages 
can be quoted from the Tantras, the special Sakta literature, 
to prove this identification, and some parts of the Tantra litera- 
ture, e.g., the first few Ulldsas (chapters) of the Mahdnirvana 
Tantra, would read like a Vedantic manual. Conformably 
to this belief, the worship of other gods and all non-Tantric 
modes of worship are regarded as inferior and incapable 
of liberating the soul. Here is a characteristic passage from 
Tantra literature: " The human being, desirous of final 
emancipation, enters the path of devotion, first as a Saura 

ia Proceedings of the Convention of Religions in India, 1909, Vol. II, p. 138. 
For the relation of diva and Sakti, see Arthur Avalon, Tantra of the Great Libera- 
tion, p. xixf. 

1M A goddess with a young subordinate god is known in early times on every 
coast of the Mediterranean which looked towards Crete. In Punic Africa she is 
Tanit with her son; in Egypt, Isis with Horus; in Phoenicia, Ashtaroth with 
Tammuz (Adonis); in Asia Minor, Cyhele with Attis; in Greece (as especially in 
Greek Crete itself), Rhea with the young Zeus. Everywhere she is parthenos, i.e., 
unwed, hut made the mother first of her companion by immaculate conception, and 
then of the gods and all life by the embrace of her own son. In memory of these 
original facts, her cult (especially the more esoteric mysteries of it) is marked by 
various practices and observances symbolic of the negation of true marriage and 
obliteration of sex. A part of her male votaries are castrated; and her female 
votaries must ignore their married state when in her personal service, and often 
practise ceremonial promiscuity. ERE. i. 147 (art. AEGEAN RELIGION). ' 



(worshipper of the Sun) and for twelve successive lives, goes 
to the Solar regions and comes back, finally to attain the 
Sar$ti-mukti after losing himself in Brahma at the end of a 
kalpa. He i^ then born again as a Gdnapatya (worshipper of 
Ganapati) in the next kalpa and after eight births, attains 
similarly the Samipya-mukti. In the next Jcalpa, he is born 
again as a Vaisnava (worshipper of Visnu), and after seven 
births, attains the Salokya-mukti. Similarly, in the succeed- 
ing kalpa, he takes birth as a Saiva (worshipper of Siva), and 
worshipping Siva for five births, obtains the Sayujya-mukti 
and for the life-time of a hundred Brahmas, lives in Siva-like 
form in the Siva-loka. He again takes his birth and in 
pursuance of his ideas and customs, worships Sakti for four 
lives, after that he takes his rest in Git (Intelligence Pure) 
and attains the Kaivalya- or Nirvana-rnnkti or the Highest 
Salvation. Of all the worshippers of the five gods, only the 
devotee worshipping with the fjakti mantra attains Nirvana- 
mukti or Salvation." 133 

When we are talking of the evolution of the Sakti cult we 
are referring not so much to the addition of Absolutistic 
terminology as to an emphasis upon it, for even very early 
speculations had invested the deity with some of the highest 
qualities of divinity. In the Kena Upanisad Uma Haimavati 
appears as a revealer of the nature of Brahman and she was 
herself frequently identified with SarasvatI, the personified 
Vedic lore. A transition to the Absolutistic conception was 
therefore easy and natural. Duly she became the revealer of 
the Nigama the body of spiritual truths which she dis- 
coursed to Siva for the benefit of the entire creation in the 
Kaliyuga. The Tantras reiterated the efficacy of mantras 
and prescribed certain yantras or diagrams as representing the 
forms in which the different deities received their offerings. 
The mantras arranged in and about a yantra formed a mystic 

IBS Quoted in the Proceedings of the Convention of Religions in India, 100JI, 
Vol. n, p. 149. For the five types of mukti, see Kennedy, The Chaitanya Move- 
ment, p. 98 (sAlokya-bemg in the same plane with Qod; lamfp^a-nearness to God; 
*0rflpy<*-likenes to God; ffirrti-equalling the glory of God; 

in God). 


divine body and everyone had to receive Tantric initiation 
(dlksa) to be entitled to spiritual comradeship and salvation. 
The Puranas had supplied the mythology of the gods; the 
Tantras provided the rituals. In course of time the cult over- 
stepped its original Saiva limits and not only acknowledged 
the wives of the other gods as the Saktis of the latter, just as 
Durga, PcT-rvatl, Uma or Gaurl was of Siva, but also prescribed 
forms of ritualistic worship for all gods, male and female. 
While it provided for congregational worship of a questionable 
type in the Sricakra (the circle) practically the only other 
congregational worship outside Vaisnavism and abolished 
caste-distinccions there, it definitely raised the dignity of 
women, remembering that these belonged to the same sex as 
the Supreme Goddess, supported the marriage of widows and 
opposed the practice of Sail or immolation of women on the 
funeral pyres of their husbands just deceased. 134 Now it is these 
appeals that could spread the cult from Kashmir to Cape 
Comorin (Kanya-kumari) among philosophers and devout men 
and not the Pafica-makara, the so-called five M's, namely, 
madya (wine), mamsa (meat), matsya (fish), mndm (parched 
grain) 135 and maithuna (coition), which to ill-informed minds 
carry the entire significance of Saktaism. As to the liberties 
permitted to the " hero " (vlra), it is well to remember that he 
has been defined as one who has controlled his senses, is truth- 
ful and ever engaged in worship and has sacrificed lust and 
other passions. 136 Did not the Upanisad speak in almost identi- 
cal terms of what is permitted to the liberated, knowing full 
well that to such natures morally reprehensible acts are impos- 
sible? 157 In fact, the aim of the entire Tantric discipline is to 
sublimate the lower instincts and to raise the soul from sex 
(Muladhara) to salvation (Sahasrara) after transcending the 
intermediate obstacles. 138 As usual, the danger has come 

134 See Eliot, op. cit., II, p. 285. 

135 The translation ie of A. Avalon. See Tantra of the Great Liberation, 
Introd., p. cxif. ; also p. cxviii f . 

OB Ibid., Intr., p. cxii. 
137 Chan. Up., $. 10. 9-10. 

MB The six cakra* or centres are Muladhara, SvadhirthSna, Ma$ip&m } 
An&hata, Vitaddha, and Ajnfi from below upwards. These cakras (they have been 


from using equivocal language in spiritual matters, for the 
ordinary mind, failing to make out the symbolism, has fixed 
upon the letter of- the text and thereby excused itself into 
indulgences, superstitions and magical practices. 

We shall now close our review of the major sects of 
Hinduism with some general reflections and some account, of 
later developments. An historical study of the different 
forms of faith reveals the interesting fact that the Indo- Aryan 
mind gradually outgrew its Vedic polytheism with unaided 
effort only to transcend theism altogether and land in a 
speculative monism which, while degrading the status of the 
gods, increased enormously the prestige of the wise man. 
The popular mind, however, while it reconciled itself gradually 
to the loss of most of the Vedic rituals, refused to abandon the 
gods, with the effect that monotheism in some form or other 
reared its head. Even the Vedanta system, which summarised 
the Upanisadic teachings, had to provide for the satisfaction of 
the theisfic bent of the human mind by postulating the reality 
of God at least for devotional purposes, and some Vedantic 
commentators could also make adequate provision for the 
reality of the individual soul and the divine government of the 
world in their interpretation of the Brahma-Sutra. Increased 
acquaintance with simpler forms of worship and contact 
with indigenous population led not only to increased 
emphasis on the element of devotion but also to the relaxation 
of caste rules. The acceptance of a Supreme God led to the 
subordination of the law of Karma to Divine grace and to the 
softening of the rigours of the law of transmigration. In its 
search after an ideal godhead the growing ethical sense 
moralised the character of one or other of the ancient gods 
and laid emphasis not only on the unitary character of God 
but also on His holiness, His abhorrence of sin and His ready 

often identified with the plexuses) must be pierced or conquered before the union 
of the Jiva with Parama-Siva (which is the sattviha or spiritual meaning of 
Maithuna or coition) can take place. See Avalon, Tantra of the Great Liberation, 
Intr., p. Ivii f. ; p. exxxii f. Union with Trrpurfteundar! beteame an objective ,in 
ome fiakti colts. See Bhandarkar, op. tit., p. 146. 


forgiveness of sins confessed and abandoned. While the 
danger of lapsing into an unethical religion, owing to the 
persistence of early literary traditions and the equivocal 
language of devotion, could not be entirely overcome, a sense 
of propriety limited its extension to society at large in the 
past and has now practically overcome it altogether. 

We approach now the post-Pauranic religious history of 
India where religious forces other than Hindu came into ope- 
ration. Genuine indigenous development of religion took the 
form of syncretism and toleration. The non-difference of Hari 
(Vi?nu) and Hara (Siva) has already been referred to. The 
association of Brahma, Visnu and Siva with their respective 
Saktis, of which Buddhistic analogues are well known, 
was established. The trinity of Brahma, Visnu and Siva 
with their respective cosmic functions of creation, 
preservation and destruction was introduced, and a com- 
bination of these functions in each god, especially in Visnu 
and Siva, was preached, thus recognising that the three 
were ultimately one in essence. When Brahma dis- 
appeared from the field of religion and Sakti, Gane&i and 
Stirya were added, the same syncretism manifested itself in 
the worship of the five gods among the Smartas, which thus 
broke down the religious isolation of the different sects, 
especially in South India, but re-introduced a limited poly- 
theism, at least in appearance, among the largest majority of 
the Hindu population. But for the fact that Hindu poly- 
theism is always tempered by Vedantic monism (of which the 
philosophy of Ramakrsna Paramahamsa is a modern ex- 
ample), this might have led to a recrudescence of crass 
polytheism : actually, however, it led to a henotheism where 
there is for the time being only one principal god and the 
other gods are subordinate to him. The preaching of Rama- 
krsna Paramahamsa that each method of belief is equally with 
others a true path of religion 139 is as much a reaffirmation of 
the Gita ideal of manifold approach as a reiteration of the 
creed of syncretistic Hinduism of this type. 

139 See Farqnhar, Modern Religious Movements m India, p. 198 f. Keshab 
Chandra Ben's New Dispensation was a similar eclectic belief .Ibid, p. 57 f . ; p. 64. 


The introduction of Semitic monotheism in India through 
Christianity and Islam has deeply affected not only Hindu 
social organisation but also Hindu religious thought. A 
deeper appreciation of the unity of God from the latter and 
of the value of devotion from the former led to a number 
of reforming movements in mediaeval and modern India. 
Some like Kabir and Nanak attempted to fuse Hinduism and 
Islam through ethical non-ritualistic monotheism while 
retaining for the most part Hindu religious ideas and appella- 
tions. Some like Rfimananda, Caitanya, Namadeva and 
Tulasidasa stuck to Vaisnava monotheism but flooded it with 
the language of piety and devotion and used the vernacular 
medium in their preachings to bring religion home to the 
minds of the people. Similar Saivite revivals took place in 
South India. 

Brought face to face with the monotheism of the West, 
three reforming movements have arisen to stem the tide of 
conversion. The Arya Samaj has revived Vedicism t4 and, 
while abolishing caste and idolatry, has given a monotheistic 
interpretation to the Vedic religion. It has revived oblation 
(havana) with an altered meaning and without animal sacrifice 
but has abandoned most of the later Hindu beliefs. The 
Brahma Samaj was conceived in a different spirit. While 
the Arya Samaj was launched in opposition to Islam and 
Christianity, the Brahma Samaj wished to utilise the best 
points of both, while professing to revive the religion of the 
Upanisads. The three earliest reformers belonging to this 
Church Earn Mohan Roy, Devendra Nath Tagore and 
Keshab Chandra Sen were influenced most deeply by the 
Qur'an, the Upanisads and the Bible respectively; the first 
adhered more to an impersonal Absolute, however, than to a 
personal God, which the second advocated, and the thtrd 
introduced many Christian conceptions in the relation of God 
to man. Brahmaism to-day, however, is, like the Prarthana 
Samaj built on its model, more Hindu than anything else in 
its philosophy of life and religious nomenclature. The return 

"Bee Farqnhar, op. tit., p. 1901. 


to Pauranic religion was inaugurated by Ramakrsna Parama- 
hamsa in the characteristic Bengali way by worshipping Kftli, 
as Bam Prasad Sen had done before him. 141 But Vaisnavism, 
which has by its past history proved itself to be most capable 
of development in a theistic direction, is coming to its own 
not only in the worship of the great charioteer of Arjuna 
(whence Krsna as the discourser of the GTta is called Partha- 
sarathi) in Hindu Missions, which are working among out- 
castes, apostates, hill-tribes and people of alien faiths, but 
also in an increased appreciation of the message of the Gita by 
eminent thinkers like Tilak, Arabinda Ghosh and Gandhi. 
Thus the Vcdas, the TTpanisads and the Puranas have all been 
revived in Modern India in search of an indigenous mono- 
theism, and contemporary political events have added patriotic 
zeal to religious revivals. Unattractive social features which 
cramped missionary activities in the past arc being ignored 
or abolished, and Hinduism is fast becoming a Church 
militant with fresh ambitions for a career of conquest. 142 
This is indirectly helping the religion itself, for aggression 
to-day is possible only for those who are best protected. 
Hinduism in its orthodox form is linked up with idolatry : we 
shall study this aspect of Hinduism in a subsequent chapter. 
It remains to be seen how Hinduism transforms itself to resist 
the onslaught rf alien faiths and to win fresh converts among 
the cultured nations of the world. To a world suffering from 
nat : onal rivalries, political struggles and luxurious modes of 
living the Hindu message of non-injury, toleration, peace and 
renunciation as the highest ideals of religious life may yet 
prove a soothing salve. On the other hand, to those in 
Hindu India who choose to follow the western ideals of strife 
the cult of KftlT cr the Krsna who incited Arjuna to violence 

Ml Kesbab Chandra Sen apparently got his concept of God as Mother from 
Association with Karrakj-sna Paramaharnsa. -See Farquhar, op. cit. t p. 58. 

u* See, for instance, Hinduism invades America by Thomas Wendell. 
Attempts have also been made to preach Hinduism in Europe and will possibly be 
made to get into touch with the still extant old Hindu colonies of the Far East 
(including Bali and other islands of the Indian archipelago"). Indian emigration 
to different parts of the world is also helping to spread Hinduism abroad. 

See the writer's article on Our Changing Social Relations in the Dacca 
University Journal, 1996. 


may prove immensely attractive, to the infinite woe of 
humanity at large. Signs are not wanting that even latent 
atheism and scepticism, which are such abiding features of 
Hindu philosophic thought all through its history, 143 are rear- 
ing their heads in the trail of material ambition and political 
struggle. The future religion of Hindu India is thus shrouded 
in obscurity and will undoubtedly be shaped materially by 
world forces and inter-communal relations. In the meantime 
small bands of enthusiastic disciples are gathering as of 
old round devotional minds for inspirational talks and 
religious discourses and deification of these local saints is 
going on as usual all around. Never before was such a 
conscious attempt made to explain, understand and appreciate 
the eternal verities of Hindu religious thought or to put the 
social structure in a satisfactory order. The neo-Vedantic 
movement with its message of equality and fraternity is rapid- 
ly pervading Hindu society and there is a definite tendency 
now to equate the service of God with the service of the socially 
depressed, the poor and the fallen. The preacher Viveka- 
nanda, the poet Eabindranath and the political saint Gandhi 
have chosen as their ideal of divine service ministration to the 
needs of the poor and the down-trodden and sent 
forth a message of social sympathy which is being 
widely responded to and carried out in practice. To 
the negative prescription of non-injury has been added 
the positive prescription of active helpfulness as a mode of 
fulfilling religious obligations. What stood so long in the 
way of practical charity of this kind is the characteristic 
Hindu way of dissociating philosophy from social life. We 
may hope that as the messages of purified Vaisnavism, Saivism 
and Vedanta are more intimately followed, Hinduism will not 
only evolve on purer lines of speculation and worship but 
also usher in fuller appreciation of the brotherhood of man 
through the common fatherhood of God or through the 
ultimate identity of all finite spirits in and through Brahman. 

149 See the writer's article on The Polite Atheism of Indian Philosophy '- 
the Dacca University Studies, Vol. I. 



it may be admitted without any discussion that when 
earlier and later beliefs jostle with one another in the scrip- 
tures of any particular religion, often to the confusion and 
dismay of its adherents, the reason is to be found in the 
almost universal disinclination to tamper with a 
sacred text. It is not in every religion that an 
' Uthman edits the sacred literature with the motive of en- 
forcing uniformity of belief and preventing future dissen- 
sion, or wields the authority to impose a standard 
version upon the entire religious community. Attempts 
made in India to codify socio-religious practices ended in the 
setting up of regional compendia (nibandhas) sanc- 
tioning conflicting customs and practices and adding to the 
vast extant basic religious literature of the country. The 
puerilities, errors and contradictions to be found in most, 
if not all, religious literatures especially in those that have 
had a long and varied history provide a happy hunting 
ground to students of ethnology, anthropology, psychology, 
ethics, social history and comparative religion. From the 
side of the religions concerned, however, they represent 
successive or separate speculations, some lofty and others 
lowly, to conceive or construct the essentials of faith and 
practice in keeping with the intellectual ability, the ethical 
stature or the regional or contemporary necessities of their 
adherents. Not unoften they are due to the influence of conti- 
guous alien faiths with which some sort of rapprochement 
seems desirable either to fill up an existing lacuna, or 
to cultivate social concord, or to facilitate the ready 
acceptance of those religions by fresh social groups. 
It is not always that the victors have suppressed, 



supplanted or modified the faiths of the vanquished. 
History is replete with instances where the vanquished 
have immensely influenced the religious beliefs of the 
conquerors, and this is true not only in cases of cultural 
conquest but also in those of political domination. In state re- 
ligions such absorptions have sometimes been deliberately and 
officially made ; but where religion is only a social institution 
the changes are generally gradual and unconscious and must 
be deemed to satisfy a social need, sane or morbid, or at 
least a social craze for novelty. The composition of the 
group very often determines the direction in which the un- 
conscious changes take place, namely, whether towards 
evolution or towards degeneration ; and by ' composition ' 
is to be understood not merely the strength of number but 
also the strength of conviction that the group possesses. 
The informed reader will readily remember the expansion 
and modification of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism 
and Christianity in different fashions in different regions in 
past and present times. 

It is not possible to indicate a single source of religious 
development and all causes do not operate at the same time. 
By far the most potent and abiding cause, however, is the 
rational and ethical faculty of man which cannot rest perma- 
nently satisfied with the latent contradictions of a creed 
or the antisocial implications of a baneful religious practice. 
It is indeed true that very often in a backward race 
the quickening of theoretical and practical reason has 
to be achieved by painful and persistent effort, if not by 
active interference from without : but once the social 
quickening does come, it is impossible to stem the tide of pro- 
gress, even though occasional retardations, due to the imita- 
tion of lower ideals or to momentary weakness of the social 
mind in times of crisis, are not unknown in religious historv. 
Men mav grow to the stature of great ideals that is the 
hope and justification of missionary activity among backward 
races ; but those who are engaged in the actual task of con- 
version know it only too well how comparatively easy it is 
to secure external conformity and how difficult it is to make 


the higher religion a living faith. The religion a man pro- 
fesses provides, in fact, the nucleus round which his whole life 
crystallises and the entire system of his thoughts and actions 
is organised. We have already remarked that intellectual 
culture and a deepened moral sense, howsoever acquired, 
deeply affect man's religious ideas just as, conversely, a 
developed religious consciousness has profound effects upon 
man's ethical ideas. In delineating the historical develop- 
ment of certain Indian religious systems we have indicated 
how man's conception of the nature and function of God is 
profoundly modified by subjective needs of the head and the 
heart and how when old practices are continued they are 
invested with a nobler spiritual significance. As Reinach 
pertinently remarks : l " The Deity is inaccessible to man ; 
but at the various epochs traversed by civilisation, humanity 
has made God in its own likeness, and the gradual idealisa 
tion of this image is an essential part of the history ot 
humanity itself." 

It will be our task now to show that every living 
religion has been obliged to have recourse to some or other 
of these expedients to escape annihilation and that the 
course of development has always lain in the direction of a 
fuller recognition of the unity and ubiquity of God and of 
the brotherhood of men with its implications of social concord 
and social service. It is evident that unequal emphasis will 
be laid on these two aspects by different religions according 
as they were originally defective on the side of duty or on the 
side of devotion. The Hebrew religion with its well-devel- 
oped conception of a tribal or national God required develop- 
ment on the aspect of social duty and intercommunal sym- 
pathy, while Buddhism with its elaborate ethical code 
required the complementary development on the aspect 
of religious devotion. Even where provision already 
exists for meeting both the demands, philosophical specula- 
tion and practical need may show the inadequacy of the 
existing concepts of deity and duty alike and lead to a more 

I S, Betaach, Orpheit*, p. 165. 


comprehensive grasp of the nature of God and His relation 
to the world and of the domain of social obligations. 

As Judaism furnishes a most instructive parallel to 
Hinduism, which we have already studied, we shall begin our 
exposition with that religion. There are obvious difficulties 
in comparing two creeds one of which has remained alnfost 
ethnic to the end among a people singularly inartistic in cha- 
racter while the other has developed on divergent lines of 
speculation and myth and did not remain an exclusive posses- 
sion of a particular nation or tribe. The difficulties are 
increased by the fact that the Hebrew nation did not treat 
its scriptures consistently with the same reverence as the 
Hindus did, with the effect that later beliefs and traditions 
were more than once pushed up to the beginning of things. 2 
Biblical scholars are now agreed that the Pentateuch in 
its present form is a synthesis of at least four different schools 
of thought 3 the Yahwist, the Elohist, the Deuteronomist 
and the Priestly; that although manifest repetitions 
and contradictions and abrupt changes in matter and style 
serve to reveal the composite character of the collection in 
some places, it is not always easy to allocate to each tradi- 
tion its share in the whole ; and that here and there are 
evidences of much more ancient materials being embedded in 
the documents of Hebrew religious thought. But, -in spite of 
the dovetailing of different traditions, the Old Testament 
contains sufficient indications, on the surface, of the tamper- 
ing of earlier texts by later beliefs. Besides, the different 
books belonging to different ages present divergent pictures 
of the national God : in fact, the differences are sometimes as 
great as those in Hinduism between the Upaniads and the 
Puranas regarding the nature and function of God. 

A close examination of the books of the Bible as also of 
the archaeological remains in the Canaanite home of the 

*8ee W. Robertson Smith, Old Testament in the Jewish Church, Loct. 
XIII. The Narrative of the Hexateuch (p. 388f). 

3 Lode, Israel, p. lOf. ; Bettany, Judaism and Christianity, p. 2f; Hexa- 
teuch (Vol. 2, p. 863) calls them the Covenant Code, the Deuteronomic and the 
Pritstljr (see also p. 865). 


Jews has disposed once for all of a pre-Mosaic monotheism 
in which Eenan and the pan-Babylonist school of Winckler 
fondly believed. 4 Neither the Semitic tribes as a whole nor 
the nomadic tribes in general nor the Israelites in particular 
were free at all times from the taint of animism and polythe- 
ism ; and among the Semites, as among other primitive races, 
monotheism has been won by hard thinking and unremitting 
zeal. As Lods remarks, 5 ' * There is one fact which puts out 
of court the theory of a pre-Jahwistic Hebrew monotheism, 
in whatever form it may be advanced. It is that the Isra- 
elites, when they emerge into the full light of history and 
up to the time of the great prophets, although Jahwists, were 
not monotheists. They \vorshipped only one national god, 
Jahweh ; but they believed in the existence and power of 
other gods : they were monolaters. But monolatry is a form 
of polytheism. Israel only attained to monotheism in the 
eighth century and to a clear and conscious monotheism only 
in the sixth, and that by a slow process of internal develop- 
ment whose stages we can trace." By collecting the traces 
of ancient thought and practice in Israelite institutions and 
beliefs of the better documented periods and by comparing 
these with the beliefs and customs of nomadic Semites of 
pre-Islamic Arabs and Bedouins of to-day, Lods has proposed 
the following reconstruction of pre-Mosaic Hebrew beliefs. 
Like all primitive peoples the Hebrews were given to magic 
and believed in the efficacy of certain practices and objects 
in controlling " invisible powers, gods, demons, spirits, the 
souls of things." They regarded the dead with religious 
awe, invested them with divine character and worshipped 
their dead ancestors with libations on a massebah or a stele 
set up near the tomb. 6 They also worshipped a great num- 
ber of trees, springs and rivers, caves and mountains. The 
sun, the moon and the stars were supposed to play an impor- 

Lods, op. eft., p. 258, Appendix. (But see Sir Charles Mars ton, The New 
Knowledge abottf the Old Testament, Oh. Ill, for the opposite view; also p. 142.) 
5 /bid, p. 267 
1/K*, p. 988. 


tant part in men's lives. 7 Demons too were believed in as 
also possession by them. A belief in some god being the 
ancestor of a particular tribe or clan was present and even a 
physical relationship was often conceived. JNay, even " the 
constituent elements of the totemic system " were also 
present. 8 There was at first no clear differentiation between 
the various supernatural powers, which were often imperson- 
ally conceived; but latterly polydemonism moved towards 
polytheism and different gods even came to be regarded as 
" fathers " of different human groups and therefore as 
persons. It is doubtful, however, if there was any hierarchy 
of the gods, but it is very likely that Yahweh, the god of Sinai, 
had assumed sufficient personality before Moses made him 
the god of the Hebrew tribes as a whole. As compared with 
this name, the other three names of the Hebrew God, 9 viz. 
Elohim (deity), El Shaddai (almighty god?), El Elyon (God 
Most High) are definitely less personal. 10 

f Lods, op. tit., p. 231. 

* Ibid, p. 249. (See also Sir Charles Marston, op. ctt., p. 37; Cheyne, Tradi- 
tions and Beliefs of Ancient Israel, p. xv.) 

Ibid 9 p. 210. 

W See D'Alviella, Origin and Growth of the Conception of God, p. 149 f., 
where a similar impersonal sense is ascribed to the gods of the Western Semites 
(Baal, Adon, Moloch or Melek, El, etc.). 

Many of the magical practices, the beliefs relating to the contagious nature 
of holiness and unclean liness, and to the way in which the influence of the dead 
could attach itself to clothing and hair, show how far, at a certain period, super- 
Itnmcrt powers were conceived as a fluid, as an impersonal force. 

According to certain critics, the very ancient term which is found in all 
Semitic languages to express the idea of " god " under the various iorms of 'el 
(Hebrew), ilu (Babylonian), ilah (Arab) originally denoted the vague force which 
is the source of all strength and life, the divine rather than a god or a divine person- 
ality : it would have had a meaning similar to that of the term mana among the 
Polynesians, the Indian brahman, and the Latin nuweN. Lods, Israel, p. 250. 

It would also seem that the simplest explanation of the very peculiar use 
of the plural elohim to denote a god lies in this early lack of differentiation between 
the various supernatural powers. In Hebrew, the word elohim, literally meaning 
gods, in the plural, may be used to denote either several divine beings, or in 
speaking of a single god or goddess. And even when it has a singular meaning 
it may be construed with plural adjectives and verbs. The Phoenicians used the 
plural elim in the same way, while the Babylonians also applied the plural Hani 
to a single god Doubtless, the worshipper, uncertain whether, in any parti- 
cular place, he had to do with one or several supernatural beings, need the 
expression e1*k*m, in the indeterminate sense of " the divine .powers." J 


Mystery hangs round the name and origin of Yahweh 
whom Moses revealed to the Hebrews at Mount Sinai. The 
derivation of the word is uncertain, 11 but the general inten- 
tion was to use it in the sense of an eternal being, possibly 
with the additional connotation of being a chastiser. This 
particular elohim is generally supposed to have been wor- 
shipped in this name by the Kenites who lived on the slopes 
of Mount Sinai ; but the wide distribution of the name and 
its derivatives even in pre-Mosaic times lends colour to the 
supposition that " the worship of this god in pre-Mosaic 
times extended far beyond the narrow circle of the Kenites 
to Canaan and Babylonia, " possibly even to Syria. 12 The 
supposition of the Elohist and the Priestlv Code that the 
name was revealed for the first time to Moses 13 is certainly 
wronpr, although it is not improbable tbat the Israelites had 
forgotten its original significance and had to give a new mean- 

p. 251. The Ptotfonart/ of the 7?iW<? says that the term is a plural of eminence 
(Vol. TT, p. 199). Bee alr,o Otto, The Idea of the Fo7i/, p. 205. 

85derblom's supposition is that the notion of Yahweh had itn point of origin 

in earlier 'animistic* ideas But what distinguishes Yahweh from El- 

Shaddai-Elohim is not that the former is an * anima,* hut that, whereas in 

Yahweh the numinous preponderates over the familiar ' rational ' character, in 
Elohim the rational aspect outweighs the numinous. Otto, The Idea of the Holy, 
pp. 76-7. flee Ahelson, Jewish Mwticisrn , pp. 150-1, where Yahweh is taken to 
represent the Justice and Elohim the mercy aspect of God. 

n T!e various meanings attached to the word are ' He that is,* ' He that 
calls into heinpr,* ' He who makes fall ' (i.e., strikes down his enemies with 
the thunder-holt^. Exodus in. 13-14 makei it " T am that I am " where 
" I am he who i> M is meant, prohahly to make eypression intentionally 
vague. T;ods. Israel, pp. 822-8. (See Pelinious Swtwi of the TForM, p. 52 n; 
Cheyne, Tradition* and Reliefs o1 Ancient Israel, p. 530.) 

Even its pronunciation is far from certain. Of course, it was never read 
as Tehovah : this name arose from a Efroas blunder of the first Christian Hebraists 
who, in the thirteenth century, read the consonants of the divine name jhioh 
with the Vowels of adonai (lord), the word which the .Tews, from reverential 
motives, substituted for it in the reading of the sacred text. The latter indicated 
this substitution by writing those vowels under the consonants of the tetragram- 
maton (i.e., the four letters of the sacred name), in accordance with their usual 
method of marking a variation between the written and the spoken text : thus Jello- 
]r7r.-Tjods, Israel p. 821. See also DtV. Bt., Vol. IT, p. 199: Extra Vol., 
p. 625f; also Kuenen, National Reliction* and Unfaertal Pfliawns, Note TV, 
p. 808f : Chevne, op. eit., pr>. 99-100 (relation of Yahweh to Elohim). 

Mljoda. op. off., p. 820. See, however, W. Bobertson Smith, Old Testament 
in the Jwi*h Chnr*h, p. 945 (with foot-note). 


ing to the term later on in conformity with contemporaneous 
religious ideas. Speaking of Moses 9 contribution, Lods 
remarks, "The true origin of his work must be sought in 
his remarkable conviction that his God was almighty and 
paramount, that he would deliver the Hebrews and make 
them his people. " We may very well suppose that on em- 
bracing the creed of Tahweh the Israelites took the Kenite 
" mark of Yahweh " on their hand and their forehead 14 and 
that circumcision replaced later on this branding of the 
flesh. 16 It is almost certain that this device of warding off 
dangers from invisible powers was replaced also by phylac- 
teries, or leather cases containing passages of the scriptures, 
which pious Jews of later times fastened at those places. 16 

Certain persistent traditions in connection with the cult 
of Yahweh can be safely utilised to gather together the fac- 
tors that went to form this particular God-idea. 1T Thus 
Yahweh is said to have promised to Abraham in Haran that 
He would make of him " a great nation ;' f and this promise 
is repeated and observed over and over again in the Old Testa- 
ment, so that there can be no doubt that Yahweh is " a god 
of increase, of generation, of populousness, of fertility.'* 
He was prayed to, by or on behalf of barren women, for chil- 
dren Sarah, Eebekah, Leah, Manoah's wife, Hannah, all 

MExod. 13.18. See Lode, op. mft., pp. 824-6; Marti, Religion of Vie Old 
Tettament, p. 60f. EBB. vi. 254, states that the Kenite derivation in men than 

U Three explanations of the origin of circumcision in Israel will he found 
in Bx. iv. 24-6 (Yahwist); Joshua v. 2-8, 8-9 (Elohist); Gen. xxxiv (Priestly). 
See also Gen. 17.10-4. The practice was not confined to the Israelites alona, for the 
Egyptians, Arabs, Phoenicians, Bdomites, Ammonites and Moabites all practised 
it, the only exception being the Philistines. See Cheyne, op. oft., pp. 682-6. 

Originally the custom was a social rite without religious significance and it 
was only " during the exile, when the Jews came into close contact with peoples 
like the Babylonians and Persians, who did not practise the rite, that circumci- 
sion took on in the eyes of the Israelites the character of a symbol of nationality 
end religion." " Then it was that circumcision became the sign of the covenant 
between Jahweh and his people (Gen. xvii Second Priestly) and was required of 
all, stranger or slave, who partook of the Passover (Bxod. xii. 44, 47-9). "Lods, 
Israel, p. 198f. 

16 Lods, op. 0tt. v p. 825. These phylacteries are still used by pious Jews. 

IT See Grant Allen, The Evolution of the Idea of God, Chape. IX and 
Jf. Lodfl, op. tit., j>. 456f, 


conceived by Yahweh's grace. As among the Hindus, 
barrenness was a curse among the Hebrews and they there- 
fore permitted not only the remarriage of widows but also 
levirate and adoption. 18 As the lord of fertility and popula- 
tion, Yahweh could very well claim the first fruits 
of the field and the flock and also the first- 
born of men as His share. 19 At least three 
national festivals were held in connection with the 
harvest 80 the Passover which was a lf harvest thanks- 
giving " after barley-harvest, the Pentecost or the Feast of 
Weeks when the wheat had been completely gathered in, 
and the Feast of Tabernacles or of Ingathering after the 
whole of the yearly crop had been collected and the vintage 
prepared. "Young trees were not to be cropped till three 
years had passed ; in the fourth year the fruit was offered to 
Jehovah, and only afterwards did it come into use by man." a 
Firstlings were sacrificed to Yahweh. The first-born sons, 
"in later stages at least, were either made over as Nazirites 
or redeemed with an offering or a money-ransom.'' 22 The 

U Ijods, op. cfit., p. 228. 

Hit has been suggested by Grant Allen that circumcision was probably 
practised at first on the first-born alone and then extended to all Jews. G. Allen, 
op. 0ft., Ch. X. See Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. ITT, p. 452. 

It is not unlikely that Yahweh as the god of fertility belongs to the sphere 
of rural life in Canaan and represents the second stage only, the first being that 
of u god of the desert. 

MLods, op. Cit., p. 435; Marti, op. cit., p. 101. 

As the connection of these festivals with country life was gradually for- 
gotten, the agricultural feasts were transformed into memorials of historical occur- 
rences. The Passover, which had originally an entirely different signification, end 
the Feast of Mazzoth, the religious celebration of the beginning of harvest, he- 
came the historical anniversaries of the Exodus. Later, the Feast of Wfeeta was 
interpreted as the memorial celebration of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai 
eo we learn from sources outside the O.T. while the Feast of Tabernacles, which 
had likewise been at first simply a harvest festival, was brought into connection 
with the dwelling in booths during the journeyings in the wilderness. Marti, 
op. cit., pp. 208-4. See also ERE. v. 864-5; Cheyne, op. oit., p. 648. 

The Passover is really a combination of two different festivals, namely, 
(1) the old Passover of the nomads, a spring festival in which the new-born ani- 
mals of the year were sacrificed, and (2) the festival of the peasants at the begin- 
ning of the barley-harvest. 

HBettany, op. eft., p. 45. Lev. 19. 9-10, 28-5; 28.22; Dent. 24. 19-22. The 
practice was Canaanite and meant to palliate the spirit of the field, the vine or 
the tree. Lods, op. eft., p. 402. 

Exod. 18.12-15. 


legend of Moses and Zipporah, where circumcision is regarded 
as having been instituted as a substitute offering for a child, 
shows, however, that the dangerous logical practice of the 
sacrifice of the first-born, as was re-instituted later 
on by Ahaz and Manasseh, was not merely theoreti- 
cally held but, as recent excavations reveal, was actually in 
vogue among the Hebrews as among the Canaanites, 23 thus 
fulfilling to the letter the divine injunction that on the eighth 
day "Thou shalt give to me the first-born of thy sons" (Ex. 
xxii. 29-30). 

Closely related to this aspect are two other facts connect- 
ed with the worship of Yahweh. It is difficult to explain 
how and why Yahweh came to be worshipped as a bull of 
gold in Dan and Bethel. Theriomorphism was rampant 
in Egypt where the ancestors of the Hebrews had sojourned 
long, and in Canaan itself Adad (or Hadad), a storm-god 
like Yahweh himself, had the bull as his sacred animal. 24 
It is not unlikely that this universal symbol of virility was 
felt to be most congruous with the god of fertility which 
Yahweh was, and it is not till we come to the age of Hosea 25 
that this mode of worship was publicly denounced. Yahweh 
was sometimes called a young bull and his temples were 
also decorated with bull-images. 26 The institution of circum- 
cision and the practice of sacred prostitution in connection 
with the cult of Yahweh also bring out the prominence of 
the fertility-idea. The other fact is the prominent associa- 
tion of Yahweh with sacred stones. Grant Allen premises 27 
"that the worship of the Baalim (gods), within and without 

Lexis, op. eft., pp. 89, 285-6, 292-4. (On p. 294 LodVs own theory on the 
subject would be found.) The practice of circumcision on the eighth day (Gen. 
17.12) may be a reminiscence of the injunction to sacrifice the first-born on the 
eighth day to Yahweh. 1 Kings 16.84 is a fulfilment of Josh. 6.26 and does not 
probably refer to any human sacrifice. 

**Lods, op. ct't., pp. 407, 459. For Egyptian influence, see p. 264 infra, 
f.n. 51. 

* See Die. Bi., Vol. IT, p. 423 (art. HOSEA). 

*Lods, op. eit. 9 p. 458; also Grant Allen, op. ct't., pp. 181-2, where it is 
ftnffpested that this symbol was transferred to Yahweh from some other god like 
Molfch or that it was dne to sacrifice of bulls to Yahweh. See 1 Kings 7.25, 29, 
44; in Num. 28.22 and 24.8; buffalo horns are possibly ascribed to Yahweh 
(Lods, op. eft., p. 458). 

* Grant Allen, op. oil., p. IfL 


Israel, was specially directed to upright conical stones, the 
most sacred objects at all sanctuaries : and that these 
stones are generally admitted to have possessed for their 
worshippers a phallic significance." He hints at the possi- 
bility ot a similar stone-pillar being the original content of 
the ark or chest in which Yahweh was supposed to possess 
his earthly seat and of the slabs of Ten Words (Command- 
ments) being a priestly invention or a later substitute. 28 
The association ot upright stones (maebah) and wooden 
posts (asherah) 2 * in the worship of Yahweh may also be 
referred to in this connection : they may have provided not 
merely visible symbols of the deity but also his original 
phallic significance. 30 

I the contents of the Ark were not allowed to be looked into, there is no 
exact description of them. It has been suggested that it probably contained " a 
meteorite stone, which, as it fell from heaven, was regarded as the abode of 
Jehovah " tfor other theories, see Lods, op. c*t., p. 425f ; Marti, op. ctt., p. 44, 
69; Die. Bi. t Extra Vol., pp. fe*4; see also Grant Allen, The Evolution of the 
Idea of God (Thinker's Library Ed.), pp. 137, il; Cheyne, op. cit., pp. 31-6. *t 
i not improbable that the Ark itself was made in commemoration of the. Ark of 
Koah, the first prophet whom God iavoured and saved and who was the mythi- 
cal progenitor oi the Semitic races through one of his sons. The infant Moses 
also lloated m an ark belore being rescued (see Gen. 11. 3-5). 

29 Grant Allen thmks (op. cit. 9 p. 68) that both these were originally asso- 
ciated with buriai-the wooden stake marking the grave and the standing stone 
serving as the tombstone. Of their further development he writes: " The 
wooden stake seems to form the origin or point of departure for the carved wooden 
image, as well as for such ruder objects of reverence as the cones and wooden pil- 
lars so widely reverenced among the Semitic tribes; while the rough boulder, 
Btandmg stone, or tombstone, seems to form the origin or point of departure for 
the stone or marble statue, the commonest type of idol the whole world over in 
all advanced and cultivated communities. 11 

30 See J P. Peters, Early Hebrew Story, p. 181f. The following quotation is 
instructive (pp. 182-3) : " There ia a survival of this sexual cult in another form 
in the oath which Abraham exacted of his servant, with his hand upon his gem- 
tols (Gen. xxiv. 2). The thought behind this is, after all, the same in principle as 
(he thought which originally connected itself with those pillars (mazzebah) which 
are so frequently mentioned in Genesis, and which formed an integral part of the 
Yahweh cult itself, in the conception of the best minds in Israel, as late as tne 
time of Isaiah. Both the pillars and the oath suggest the meaning which origi* 
nally attached to such a cult, expressing itself by worship oifered to a stone of 
phallic shape, the use of phallic symbols as oblations, the oath by the organs 
of reproduction, and finally in prostitution itself as a ritual act. LodB, how- 
ever points out (op. *.. P . 262) that as the pillars set up by the Semites might 
equallfWesent godde**es, the phallic significance could not have been umver- 
sal. (See also p. 269 for the discussion on sacred stones.) 


A second stream of thought that possibly entered mto 
the composition of the Yahweh-idea was ancestor-worship 
and, in a country where the dead were buried and not cre- 
mated,* also the cult of tomb-stones. Although the oldest 
Hebrew belief was vague about the future state of the 
departed, the cult of the manes was fairly universal and, the 
tempkim, sometimes of human form and size, 38 could be 
found in all households ; food was offered to them as to house- 
hold gods or departed ancestors at stated intervals ; and " they 
were consulted on all occasions of doubt or difficulty by a 
domestic priest clad in an ephod," a It would be unusual in 
such a community not to possess monumental stones associat- 
ed with this or that tribal ancestor, and, as a matter of fact, 
we find that, by the side of sacred trees, there were such 
stones as the altar of Abraham, the altar of Jacob, the memo- 
rial of Joshua and the altar or stone-pillar of Isaac. 34 One 
writer K observes : ' ' Since we find the graves of the ances- 
tors of Israel situated on mountains, or connected with 
places where there stood either a tree or a stone, it is impos- 
sible to avoid the conclusion to which we are led by many 
other considerations that the pre-Jehovistic worship was that 
of ancestors." In fact, all the four varieties of early tomb- 
stones, namely, the standing stone (menhir), the stone- 
table (dolmen), the stone-heap (cairn) and the stone circle 
(cromlech), could be found in Jewish religion : " the menhir 
is ' the pillar ' of our Authorised Version of the Old Testa- 
ment ; the dolmen is the ' altar ' ; the cairn is the ' heap ' ; 
and the stone circle appears under the names Gilgal and 
Hazor." 36 A shaped stone, the mark of a ghost or god, was 

a The pre-Semitic inhabitants of Canaan used to bum their dead as exca- 
vations at Geeer show. Peters, op. eft., p. 98. 

* But see Die. B*., Vol. H, p. 200. 

Grant Allen, op. cii., p. 126. Hosea seems to have considered the tera- 
phim as indispensable in worship (Hbs. 3.4). 

M Grant Allen, op. oil., p. 129. Tombs of ancestors and heroes often ap- 
pear as places of worship, e.g., the grave of Miriam at Eadeah. Marti, op. ctt M 
p. 54. 

Bev. A. W. Oxford in Religious System* of the World, p. 56. 

Grant Allen, op. dt. t p. 68; see also art. GILGAL in Die. Bi., Vol. n, 
pp. 176-7. It is interesting to note that trees as well as these different kind* rf 
ttenes were worshipped ako in the; Aegean religion. See "RKft. 1.14&. 


known among the Hebrews as a Beth-el or "abode of 
deity." 37 Grant Allen throws out the suggestion, which he 
himself calls purely hypothetical, that just - as ' cones with 
pyramidal heads, bearing inscriptions to the deceased, were 
used by the Phoenicians for interments/ so also ' the original 
Jahweh may have been such an ancient pillar, covered with 
writings of some earlier character, which were interpreted 
later as the equivalents or symbols of the " Ten Words " or, 
in other words, the conical stone pillar was ' the grave stone 
of some deified ancestor : and of this ancestor " Jahweh " 
was perhaps either the proper name or a descriptive epithet/ 38 
If Moses is represented as setting up twelve stone-pillars * 
and an altar to Yahweh after receiving the revelations at 
Sinai, 40 it may be assumed that the former were meant to re* 
present the twelve tribes of Israel a kind of tribal memorial 
round the stone seat of the deified ancestor of the tribes Ob- 
viously keeping in mind the various modes which the worship 

37 Grant Allen, op. ctt., p. 128. " Holy stones existed at Bethel (Gen. 
xxviir.18; xxxv.14). Ophrah (Judges vi.20), Zion (2 Sam. xxiv.!6>, Shechem (Josh. 
xxiv.26), Gilead (Gen. xxxi.45), Gilgal (Josh.iv) and other place* " t/tef. Sya. o/ 
the World, p. 55). " If he (the Israelite) desired to know why there were 
specially sacred holy places in certain localities, such as Shechem, J'.ethel, Heb- 
ron, Beersheba, Penuel or Mahanaim, tradition replied that it wan because in this 
particular spot, under the shade of this tree, beside this spring, at this sacred 
stone, Jahweh appeared to one of the ancestors of Israel in a dream (Bethel), in 
bodily form ^Hebron, Penuel), by a verbal communication (Lahai Roi) by a 
miracle (at the waters of Kades'nV'Lods, Israel, p. 166. See, in this connec- 
tion, J. P. Peters, Early Hebrew Story, Lect IV. Survivals Legendary and 
Mythical; also Lods, op. eft., pp. 261, 266. It is interesting to note that " the 
Jewish settlers at Elephantine, who fltill preserved in the fifth century (B.C.) 
many of the* ancient customs of pre-exilic times, assigned to Jahweh a female 
consort, whom they called indifferently Anath-Jahu or Anatb-Bethel " (Lods, 
Israel, p. 124; see also p. 135). See also Cam 6. Anc. His., Vol. III, p. 490; 
Gfceyne, op. ctf., p. xvi. 

Grant Allen, op. ctt., p. 140. Lods is willing to admit that the ark was 
possibly a sacred sarcophagus in Canaanite sanctuaries later assumed by the 
Hebrews, but he does not think that Yahweh was ever regarded as an Osiris or an 
Adonis who died and was reborn annually. (Israel, pp. 428-9). 

"Exod. 24.4 (c/. Josh. 4). Hosea (3.4; 10.2) and Isaiah (19.19) considered 
these pillars to be as indispensable as the altars themselves. The sacred poles 
(aslierah\ are similarly mentioned as standing by the altar of Yahweh (sae ReL 
Sys. of the World, p. 66) but they became objects of condemnation. to strict Yahwret? 
tong before the pillars (Lods, op. ctt., p. 4535). 

40 In later times altars of brass were raised in the temple .at Jernsaltin ; bat 
&od. 20.&4, 25 tacitly condemn them. (See also 2. Kings 16.1,04.) 


pf Yahweh assumed in later times, Grant Allen traces the 
following interesting development from ancestor worship to 
nature worship : 41 

" In the first place, we must recollect that while in 
Egypt* with its dry and peculiarly preservative climate, 
paumxnies, idols, tombs and temples might be kept unchanged 
and undestroyed for ages, in almost all other countries rain, 
wind, and time are mighty levellers of human handicraft. 
Thus, while in Egypt the cult of the Dead Ancestor survives 
as such quite confessedly and openly for many centuries, in 
most other countries the tendency is for the actual personal 
objects of worship to be more and more forgotten ; vague 
gods and spirits usurp by degrees the place of the historic 
man ; rites at last cling rather to sites than to particular per- 
sons. The tomb may disappear ; and yet the sacred stone 
may be reverenced still with the accustomed veneration. The 
sacred stone may go ; and yet the sacred tree may be watered 
yearly with the blood of victims. The tree itself may die ; and 
yet the stump may continue to be draped on its anniversary 
with festal apparel. The very stump may decay; and yet 
gifts of food or offerings of rags may be cast as of old into the 
sacred spring that once welled beside it. The locality thus 
grows to be holy in itself, and gives us one clear and obvious 
source of later nature- worship." 

We have, however, already alluded to the fact that the 
peculiar theophanies of Yahweh are intimately associated with 
certain elemental phenomena. Numerous passages can be 
quoted * to prove that Yahweh was sometimes conceived as 
the storm-god and that every thunder-cloud disclosed his pre- 
sence. " Since the sight of Jehovah brought death, the 
thunder-clouds which concealed him were regarded as friendly 
spirits ; they were called Cherubim. 43 The flashes of lightn- 
ing, too, were regarded as spirits, and called Seraphim, 

A Grant Allen, op. cit., p. 145. 

"For instance, Judges 5.4; 6.21; Ps. 29; Exod. 3.2; 10.16; 1 Kings 
8.10; 18.88; Isaiah 6. (See Religious Systems of the World, p. 54; Cam. Anc. 
Jit*., HI, p. 480; Cheyne, op. tit. p. 80f.) 

UPB. 18.10; 1 Kings 6.28. See EBB. vi. 254 where the storm-derivation is 
regarded as merely conjectural. 


probably from an old idea that they were snakes." 44 Prob- 
ably because clouds so frequently rested on mountains, 
Tahweh was supposed to have his seat on mountains, 45 and 
hence when the Israelites occupied Canaan, the high places 
where the Canaanite gods (baals) used to be worshipped could 
very easily be converted into sanctuaries of Yahweh. In fact, 
this mountain abode was such a persistent association among 
the Hebrews (who probably imitated in this respect the Baby- 
lonians whose great temples were modelled on mountain ennc- 
tuaries and had ziggurats or peaks at the top) that in their 
temples a dark chamber on the summit of an artificial moun- 
tain (in imitation of a cloud-capped peak) was reserved for 
God and offerings were made at the foot of this artificial 
mountain. 46 But as the mountain where Yahweh first mani- 
fested himself to Moses, namely, Mount Sinai, was probably 
a volcano, the features of that mount attached themselves to 
Yahweh possibly this association was even pre-Mosaic. 47 To 
quote Lods : 48 " The story was told that, like the volcano, 
Jahweh had appeared to the Israelites in the wilderness 
under the form of a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud 
by day. He had revealed himself to Abraham as a blazing 
torch and a smoking furnace (Gen. xv. 17). The temple 
was filled with smoke when the ark was brought into it in the 
time of Solomon (1 Kings viii. 10-11) and when Isaiah re- 
ceived the vision there which called him to the prophetic 
office (Isa. vi. 4). Thunder was the voice of Jahweh. Poets 
described the march of Jahweh shrouded in dark clouds, dis- 
charging hail-stones and coals of fire. The God of Sinai ap- 
peared to Moses " in a flame in the midst of a bush." " The 
glory of Jahweh ' ' was a divine fire of dazzling brightness 
flashing at intervals from the storm-cloud which concealed it ; 
sometimes this fire seems to have been thought of as surround- 
ing sometimes as constituting the body of the deity. The 
chariots and horses of the heavenly host are of fire." When 

44 laa. 6.6 (cf. Ahi Budhnya of the Bigveda). See 2 Kings 18.4. 

45 Gen. 22.14; Num. 23.3; Deut. 83.19; 2 Sam. 15.32; 1 Kings 20.23. 

46 Peters, op. ctt., pp. 102-3. 

47 See Exod. 19.18-9. See Cheyne, op. ctt., p. 563, 
ULoda, op. <#., pp. 456-7. 


K was invoked to consume the offering of calf on the 
altar, he oame <kxvm as a lightning and burnt up the sacrifice 
and he sent down fire frcm above to consume Ahazi all's 
1 captain df fifty with his fifty ' at Elijah's invocation. 49 
When he wanted to punish sinners he sent down fire and 

But there were other natural associations too. The re- 
cent discovery of the Laws of Hammurabi and the general re- 
semblance of the Jewish laws with these laws of Babylon 
raise a very strong suspicion that " Palestine was a descen- 
dant of Babylonia, not in the literal sense of descent 
of Wood, hut in the equally real sense of descent 
<irf thought, religion and civilisation." so Sand- 
wiched between the two imperial powers of Egypt 
and Babylon, which possessed advanced civilisations of 
their own, and politically dominated by these and other 
superior powers for a long time, the Palestinian civilisation 
could Jiot -avoid either unconscious or deliberate absorption 
of other cultures. All facts connected with the history of 
Moses (as off Joseph) point to the infiltration of the culture of 
the west, 51 while the eastern culture seems to have come 
through a mythical ancestor, Abraham. 52 The Judaean tradi- 
tion connects Abraham with Haran in Mesopotamia and Ur 

"I Kings 16.88; 2 Kings 1.10; Judges 6.21; 18.20. 

* Peters, op. c*t., p. 167. See Lode, op. eft., pp. 165-6; also the Laws of 
Hammurabi (R.P.A. series). Prof. Clay thinks that the greater part of the Code 
of Hammurabi originated in Aleppo. See Loda, op. ctt., p. 81. Marti thinks that 
there was no direct borrowing. See op. ctt., p. 12. 

U Peters shows the similarity between the exposure of Moses on the Nile 
and that of King Sargon of Babylonia on the Euphrates. See op. ctt., p. 192. Also 
Marti, op. ctt., p. 19. 

Marti thinks that the Egyptian influence oame during the Oanaanite period 
rather than at the time of the Exodus (op. ctt., p. 44). See Lods, op. ctt., p. 818 f. 
(Appendix). The trend of modern opinion is that the Exodus was from North 
Arabia and not from Egypt. See Cheyne, op. cii., p. xviif. 

The distinction between the stories of Moses, Samuel and' David and the 
stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is that in the former 1 the legendary elements 
are adornments of the tale due to the fancy of the story-teller, his desire to display 
his knowledge of the times and conditions in which his heroes Jived and acted, 
tnd his effort to make vivid and real the tale which he tells; in the latter the 
legend is the essence, the kernel of the story; the character itself la legend.- 
J. P. Peters, Early Hebrew Story, pp. 194-5. 


in Babylonia, both of which were famous for their worship 
of the moon-god Sin. Further association of Abraham with 
this god is indicated by certain names in the family of 
Abraham. The sons of Terah are Abraham, Nahor and 
Haran, the last of which name is the same as that of the 
Mesopotamian seat of the moon-god. The wives of Nahor 
and Abraham, again, are Milkah and Sarah, and these are also 
titles of the goddess associated with Sin at Haran (and possib- 
ly, also at Ur). 55 Now it is at Sinai, the mountain seat of 
Sin, 54 that Moses received his revelation, which prob- 
ably means that Yahweh replaced Sin at that sanc- 
tuary ; but the fact that the Jews of later times 
managed to forget even the identity of this cradle of their re- 
ligion a raises the suspicion that the place never became a 
stronghold of Yahwist worship at any time. Probably the 
movement of the population further north into lands where 
other high and holy places were available rendered the reten- 
tion of the Sinai sanctuary unnecessary the Bible says, the 
Israelites were driven away by Yahweh from the foot of Sinai 
where they had wished to settle (Ex. xxxii. 34; xxxiii. 15). 
The relation of Sin and Yahweh at Sinai was reflected in 
Hebrew genealogy where Moses is made a descendant of 
Abraham, 56 just as independent cycles of legends connected 

See, however, Beinach, Orpheus, p. 200 : " Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, often 
supposed to have been tribal gods, may have been real persons." See also Die. Bt., 
Vol. HI, p. 200. 

S3 Peters, op. oft., pp. 158-9. See, however, Marti, op. cit., p. 89f; he 
thinks that Arabia was originally the home of the peoples of the Semitic world 
(p. 41). For the identification of Haran, see Sir Charles Maraton, op. cit., pp. 51-8; 
Cheyne, op. cit., pp. 211-5. 

"See Bnc. Br. (14th Ed.), Vol. 20, p. 703, art. SINAI; Die. Bi., IV, 
p. 586, art. SINAI MOUNT; Century Dictionary and Encyclopaedia, VI, p. 934. 
See, however, Cheyne, op. cit., pp. 626-7, also p. 28. The etymology of the 
word is uncertain; generally it is derived from a word meaning ' thorn-bush.' 

See also Sir Charles Marston, op. cit., Ch. XIII. Sinai. He refers to the 
TempJe of Serabit where Hathor was worshipped by the Semites who worked the 
neighbouring turquoise mines. 

86 Interesting information about the attempts to identify Sinai would be 
found in Lods, Israel p. 176f. He thinks that the eastern coast of the Gulf of 
Akabah in Arabia proper (where there is a line of craters, now extinct, but one of 
which, Harrat al-Nar (crater of fire), near Medina, is attested to have been active 
during the historical period) is probably the location of Sinai. 

For Israelite holy places associated with AbrahamHebron, Beersheba, 



with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were unified through 
a similar genealogical succession. 57 Other associations with 
the cult of heavenly bodies are not locally absent. Jericho, 
Laban (Jacob's father-in-law) and the Lebanon mountains 
all carry the moon-association, while the cult of Shamash, the 
sun-god of Babylonia, lingers in such names as Samson, 
Bethshemesh, etc., and in the practice of setting up pillars to 
Yahweh as to Shamash. Although rarely, Yahweh is repre- 
sented by the winged disk, 68 symbolising the Sun ; and the 
monoliths which more frequently stand for Yahweh have been 
regarded also as representing the solar rays. 69 The sabbath 
and the newmoon were taken over from the Babylonian cult of 
the heavenly bodies and attached to Yahweh, 60 which explains 
the hostility of the prophets to these heathen institutions. The 
horned altars of Yahweh, if not derived from a bull, were 
probably taken from the crescent moon. There is no doubt 
that the temptation to find room for the solar cult within 
Yahwism persisted as an undercurrent and the influence ot 
Babylonia and Assyria could not be entirely stemmed. Aha? 
and Manasseh only systematised the worship of the heavenly 
bodies, and horses and chariots were given to the Sun at the 
entrance of the temple of Yahweh himself by the kings of 
Judah. The facility with which the cult of the various 
Baalim was absorbed must be due to the same reason, for a 
Baal represented not only the generative principle in nature 
(as Ashtoreth the productive principle) but also the Sun-god 

Bethel and Shechem, see Peters, op. eft., p. 165. Jacob was associated with the 
last three as also with Mahanaim, Penuel (or Peniel), Gilead and Mizpah. Isaac 
was associated with Beersheba and Joseph with Shechero. Ibid., p. 137. 

W Peters, op. tit., Lect. III. The Patriarchs and the Shrines of Israel 
fesp. pp. 114 and 126). In later times there was a regular worship of the Moon 
(Ishtar, the queen of heaven) by the women specially (see Jer. 7.18; 44.17-9, 25). 

BBLods, op. ctt., p. 459. See Die. Bi. t Vol. II, p. 429 f.n. (under art. THE 
HOST OF HEAVEN); also Cam. Anc. His., HI, pp. 428, 431. Josiah broke 
down the sun-images above the altars of the Baalim (2 Chr. 34.4-6). See EBB. 
v5i. 488, art. MASSEBHAH (astronomical association). 

M Lods, op. ctt., p. 237 for association with the sun, the moon and the stars 
ii pre-Mosaic belief. 

MLods, op. ctt., p. 438f. 

" In Babylonian the corresponding word ' sapathu * (sabathu) denotes not 
the seventh day but the full moan. The weekly festival of the Sabbath only 
arose, therefore, by an artificial transmutation of the festival of the full moon, 


(like Adad and Eimmon). 61 The cult of the heavenly bodies 
could be conquered only when Yahweh came to be called the 
Lord of the Host, when the stars came to be regarded as " the 
visible image, or counterpart, of the host, or army, of angels, 
by which Jahweh was conceived to be surrounded," 62 and 
when even the prophets of Israel were considered to be able to 
make the sun stand still. 63 The iconoclasm of Josiah, who 
3ompleted the act of religious reform initiated by Hezekiah, 
saved Israel from this solar cult. 

It may at once be admitted, however, that by the time 
of the Old Testament the phallic, the euhemeristic and the 
naturalistic associations of Yahweh 64 had been so well domi- 
nated by the personal aspect that there was no 
serious danger about the Israelites forsaking that 
aspect in favour of the different primitive elements 
that must have originally entered into the composi- 
tion of Yahweh. Cook well observes: 65 "Pre- 
served here and there in the Old Testament we have, in fact, 
the disjecta membra of cults which are more reminiscent of 
the barbarism and mythology of the old Oriental world than 
of that spiritual idealism and ethical monotheism which dis- 
tinguish the higher religion of Israel from other religions. 
How the cult of Yahweh was introduced we do not really 
know, and the deeper study of the Old Testament in the light 
of archaeological and other evidence suggests the very import- 
ant conclusion that an older and cruder Yahwism has dis- 
appeared, and an entire chapter is missing between the 
Amarna age 56 and the rise of the Old Testament." The 

which was not peculiar to Israel alone. Marti, op. cit. 9 p. 15; also p. 85. See 
ERR. v. 863; also Cheyne, op. cit., p. 69. 

61 See Cambridge Companion to the Bible (1893), pp. 162-3; also Cam. 
Anc. His., HI, p. 431. 

62 Die. Bi., Vol. II, p. 480. 

63 Jos. 10.12-3. 

64 See Cam. Anc. His., ITI, p. 426! (II. The Old Yahwism). 
85 Cam. Anc. His., HI, pp. 431-2. 

68 The reference is to the correspondence of the princes of Syria and Pales- 
tine with their overlords Amenophis (Amenhetep) HI and IV (Akhenaten) dis- 
covered at Tel el-Amarna. See Sir Charles Marston, op. aft., Ch. XV. Tel El- 


same writer points out * 7 that in the construction, contents 
and ritual of the Temple of Jerusalem could be found ele- 
ments borrowed from surrounding cultures, including those 
of South Arabia, Crete and Cyprus. Again, Egyptian, 
Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Hittite and other religions con- 
tributed to the evolution of the composite temple-religion of 
the Israelites, for when they moved into Canaan they could 
easily come into contact with the cult of the gods of those 
religions as absorbed by the native population and utilise the 
necessary elements to start a new temple-cult after old well- 
established models. In fact, it would not be inappropriate 
to compare the Hebrew conquest of Palestine with the Aryan 
invasion of North-west India both the Hebrews and the 
Aryans were less advanced in material civilisation than the 
Oanaanites and the Indus-valley people whom they 
respectively displaced and they could not resist the 
temptation of mixing or identifying this or that 
feature of their own religion with similar features 
of the native cults. One notable absorption in both 
Palestine and India was serpent-worship, perhaps de- 
rived ultimately from Egyptian sources in the one case and 
from savage tribes in the other. The brazen serpent (prob- 
ably a Jebusite idol), pushed back to the Mosaic age, 68 became 
an integral part of the Yahweh cult in the Hebrew religion 
(as did a goddess Asherah) and disappeared only after Heze- 
kiah's reform, while the serpent found its way into both 
Vaisnavism and Saivism as indispensable to Visnu's rest on 
the Ocean of Milk, the churning of the ocean, and the orna- 
mentation of Siva's body, in addition to being the object of an 
independent cult (of Manasa) down to the present day. 69 But 

ff See Cam. Anc. His., HI, p. 427 (and Lods, op. cit., p. 415) for the prob- 
able origin of the ark, the cherubim, the lion, the lions, the molten (brazen) sea, 
the shewbread, the horned altar, the bronze pillars, the sacred pillars, etc., in the 
Temple of Jerusalem. (Also Reinach, Orpheus, pp. 187, 197; Sir Charles Marston, 
op. cit., p. 60 f., for an account of the Phoenician Tablets found at Has Shamra.) 

MLods, op. cit., p. 404; J. Yahuda, Law and Life according to Hebrew 
Thought, p. 27. 

WSee Vogel, Indian Serpent- Lore, p. 192 f; see p. 202: "Whereas Sesha 
is closely connected with Vishnu, we find Vftsuki associated with Siva : the Serpent- 
King is supposed to be slung round that god's neck.' 1 Association With Siva 


in Palestine there were other assimilations too. The 
Oanaanites had drawn freely upon the Aegean, the Egyptian, 
the Babylonian, the Hittite and other surrounding cultures 
for secular objects and religious symbols 70 and also the 
Phoenician for their alphabet. Eecent excavations have 
brought out interesting remains of many foreign gods in 
Palestine of the pre-Israelite age, 71 many of which were 
possibly used as amulets. Sacred pillars, grottos (possibly 
inhabited by a serpent-god), chambers, altars, censers, etc., 
formed part of the religious equipment, 72 and human sacrifice 
was practised generally as a foundation-rite. Theriomorphism 
was present possibly also totemism. 73 Local divinites were 
worshipped " on every high hill and under every green tree " 
under the title of Baals, 74 and inasmuch as they were con- 
ceived as persons they often figured as relations. 75 More 
often these gods were regarded as overlords of their own 
special cities or tribes, as Milkom of the Ammonites, 
Chemosh of the Moabites and Baal-zebub of Ekron, although 
some like Hadad, Shemesh, Gad and Dagon were more wide- 
ly worshipped. 76 Possibly, Yahweh himself was worshipped 
in Canaan before the Israelites settled there. 77 There were 
female deities (Baalath) too, and of these Astarte was the 
most prominent (and sometime the general designation). 78 

would be more natural if this God had a Sumerian prototype as is claimed by Sir 
John Marshall in his Mahenjo Daro. 

70 See Lods, op. cit., p. 63f (II. Foreign Eelations). 

71 Lods, op. oil., p. 86; p. 137 (Foreign Divinities). See also Marti, op. 
cit., p. 72f ; he thinks that the images of Egyptian gods were worshipped probably 
by the Egyptian residents of Canaan (p. 79). 

7* See Cam. Anc. His., HI, p. 447. 

ro For similar beliefs in Judaism after settlement in Palestine, see Cam. 
Anc. His., m, p. 444. 

WLods, op. oft., p. 120; Marti, op. cift., p. 91. 

75 Marti thinks that this was due to the extension of the cult of ancestor- 
worship. Op. eit., p. 54. See Lods, op. cit., p. 241. 

W Individual deities stand out from the great mass of demons, and these 
were plainly imagined to be personal gods, such as Astarte and Baal by the 
side of Hadad and Ascbirat. Marti, op. cit., p. 83. 

77 Lods, op. cit., p. 132. See Sir Charles Marston, op. cit., p. 61. 

78 Lods, op. cit., p. 132f. 

Astarte must have been the object of especial veneration, for many pictures 
fcave already been found of this goddess, whereas no single image of Ba'al has 


So when the Israelites moved into Canaan they came into a 
region where polydaemonism and polytheism were the pre- 
vailing creed and religious worship centred round the local 
baals and astartes and was often sanguinary in character. 

That the immigrants quickly adopted and then persisted 
in the worship of many of these baals and astartes can be 
made out easily from the repeated denunciations of the popular 
religion by the prophets of Israel. 79 They had possessed only 
a nomadic cult suited to the austere life of the desert and so 
when they moved into a region full of fertile low lands, where 
agriculture was the main occupation, they simply imitated 
the local inhabitants in the cults connected with their new 
occupation. 80 In fact, even when they overthrew the worship 
of the local deities and installed their own Yahweh in their 
place, the Canaanite cults lingered on and were, there- 
fore, often attacked by the prophets at a later time. Thus 
the sanctuaries of Yahweh were multiplied and planted where 
the baals had been worshipped before, much as Christian 
churches were built on the foundations of pagan temples at 
a later time, and very often Yahweh himself was supposed to 
possess different attributes and powers at these different 
places. 81 " One temple implied one God " and " a local 
Jehovah was practically a local Baal." 82 It was left to 
Josiah (and the Deuteronomic Code) to prohibit all sacred 
places outside Jerusalem and to restore visibly the unity of 
Yahweh. Thenceforth pilgrimage to these different shrines 

been discovered in the soil of Palestine. It is no doubt possible that this may 
be accounted for by the fact that the Astarte was the goddess of the home and 
ol the increase of the family, whereas the images of Ba'al were not kept in the 
house, and had therefore disappeared. Marti, op. cit. 9 pp. 92-3. 

7 Gideon, Jephthah, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Abab and many such 
leaders and kings were guilty of religious lapses. (See W. B. Smith, Old Testa- 
ment in the Jewish Church , p. 235f.) 

80 Marti, op. cit., p. 104. The nature of Yahweh as originally a storm-god 
facilitated the transference to him of the functions of the Canaanite gods of agri- 

81 Marti, op. cit., p. 105; Lods, op. cit. t p. 407; Rel. Sys. of fhe World, 
pp. 54-5. Cf. Dent. 6.4 : " Hear, Israel, Yahweh, our God, is one Yahweh." 
This is the Shema which is recited morning and evening as a confession of faith. 

MDic. Bt., Vol. m, p. 788, art. JOSIAH; W. B. Smith, Old Test, in the 
Jtwish Church, p. 243. 


ceased. It is in Canaan, again, that regular national festi- 
vals, generally associated with agriculture, were instituted, 
and, in place of the occasional sacrifices of the nomadic 
days on an improvised altar of earth or unhewn stone as sac- 
ramental communions, there was instituted a regular system 
of national and private sacrifices, on fixed altars, of first fruits 
and firstlings, as thanksgiving festivals, 83 and the revolting 
practices of human sacrifice and sacred prostitution were also 
introduced. Against these too the classical prophets had to 
wage relentless campaigns, and although they could not 
abolish the sacrifices altogether they could invest some of 
them with an enhanced spiritual meaning. That the nation as 
a whole did not entirely forget the good old nomad days is 
evident from the fact that the Eechabites bound themselves 
to observe all the rules of nomadic life (2 Kings x. 15-16 ; 
Jer. xxxv), that the Naziritcs abjured, among others, wine, 
presumably because it was a product of Canaanite vineyards M 
and a favourite libation of the baals, and that the Passover of 
the nomad days, when probably the first-born of the flock 
were sacrificed, became the most important national festival. 85 
Lods has given an excellent summary of the effects of 
the Canaanite contact on the religion of the Israel* 
ites. 86 Some of the immigrants forgot their national 
god altogether and began to worship the baals and 
the astartes. The majority worshipped the baals 
and Yahweh simultaneously, for it was felt that 
Yahweh' s seat was in Sinai or Mount Seir and he had no 
fixed seat in Canaan. Some worshipped Yahweh in days of 
trouble as the national deliverer while in the days of prosperity 
they paid their homage to the baals. Idols, such as the 

83 Marti, op. cit., p. 102; Lods, op. tit., p. 290. For the sacrifices men- 
tioned in the Has Shamra Tablets, see Sir Charles Marbton, op. cit., p. 62. 

M Lods, op. tit., pp. 101, 283, 305f, 410f and also p. 388 (the Ken ites). 
Hosea had to preach that corn, wine and oil all came from Yahweh and not from 
the baals as the people seemed to think (2.8, 22), thus establishing the claim of 
Yahweh to be the only giver of all goods. See Die. fit., Extra Vol., p. 657 f. 

For the Nazirite vow, see Num. vi. 

M Lods, op. dt. 9 p. 290 f. 

86 Lods, op. cit., p. 403f; see Cam. Anc. His., HI, p. 434; Die. St., II, 
p 446, art. IDOLATBY; also J, Hnxley, Religion without Revelation, p. 2S3f. ' 


brazen serpent and the Asherah, found their way into the 
temples of Yahweh and even female consorts were found for 
him. Gradually, however, Yahweh became the sole object 
of worship ; but all the titles and attributes of the baals were 
transferred to him either because some similarity was estab- 
lished by the Israelites between him and these gods or because 
the native population gave a place to the god of the immi- 
grants in their own sanctuaries and he later usurped all the 
sacred spots (high places, springs, trees, stones, etc.), asso- 
ciated with the baals. Eeadily, some mythical patriarch or 
other was supposed to have established those sanctuaries as 
seats of Yahwist worship in remote times or possibly these 
baals were themselves converted into some remote human 
ancestors of the Jewish race. 87 Finally, Yahweh became the 
god of the land and Palestine became the land of Yahweh, 88 
although the multiplicity of the original Canaanite 
gods continued to manifest itself in the multiple 
rites, attributes and powers attached to Yahweh at 
different places. He himself was frequently called 
baal (lord) and was transformed from a god of no- 
mads to a god of peasants with the local rites arid 
practices transferred to liis cult. But there was also some 
real gain during the Palestinian settlement, for the power 
of Yahweh was now extended over the whole of Canaan and 
the Israelites could now have faith in the power and provi- 
dence of Yahweh wherever they might go and did not have 
to serve other gods, as was the nomadic custom when people 
moved into other lands or were outlawed or exiled (1 Sam. 
xxvi. 19). w Yahweh ceased to be -conceived regionally and 
became a truly national god of the Israelites, more powerful 
than the gods of their neighbours. He confounded the calcula- 

87 Abraham, Isaac, Jwob and Joseph, before being presented as founders 
of certain holy places, had been their gods or baals "' Abraham at Hebron, 
Isaac at Beersheba, Jacob at Bethel, and perhaps Joseph at Sheehem. Iiods, 
op. cit., p. 161. See D'Alviella, The Origin and Growth of the ContepUon of 
God, p.' 186. 

W Lode, op. eit., p. 461f. 

The principle was later on extended to other gods and the wives of the 
Israelite princes often brought the statues of the gods of their own country and 
even had temptes built to them fl Kings H- 7-8; 16.81-8). 


tiona of the Syrians under Ben-hadad who had thought that 
as a god of the hills he would be powerless on the plains 
(1 Kings xx. 28). In fact, he always led the Israelites in 
their battles and his ark was carried before the Jewish host 
as an emblem of his presence in their midst wherever they 
might go. 90 But the idea very often was that although he 
could be invoked anywhere, he had his special earthly seat 
originally in South Palestine and the desert (Deut. xxxiii. 
2 ; Hab. iii. 3) and later on in the temple at Jerusalem 
(although Solomon himself had his doubts if God could be 
confined to any earthly seat, including the temple built by 
him, when "heaven and the heaven of heavens" could not 
contain him). 91 The compromise between the two views 
took later on the form of a temple-worship strictly confined 
to Jerusalepi and a less formal worship offered at any place 
to Yahweb, just as an earlier compromise hnd permitted the 
retention of the sanctuaries in high places but cut down the 
image of the Asherah and destroyed the idols (1 Kings 
xv. 12-3)." 

That the exclusive cult of Yahweh could be established 
only with great difficulty and retained with equal difficulty 
is evident through every epoch of Jewish history. The ori- 
ginal immigrants did not question the right of the different 
nations awl tribes to have gods of their own, and when they 
protested against their own people worshipping or consulting 
the oracles of the gods of other people it was not because 
these gods were " nothings/' as the later prophets said, but 
because it implied scant respect paid to their own god 
Yahweh : " Is it because there is no God in Israel, that ye 
go to enquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron?" is the ques- 
tion that the angel of Yahweh asked Elijah to put to the mes- 

90 See, for instance, Deut. 23.12-4 where the Israelites are directed to keep 
their tents clean because God walks in their midst there. 

n 1 Kings 8.27. See Cam. Anc. His., Ill, pp. 432-3. 

W See Lods, op. eit., p. 413. Asa and Hezekiah were responsible for these re- 
forms before Josiah (1 Kings 15.12-3; 2 Kings 18.4, 22): if Hezekiah had also 
removed "the high places/ 1 they apparently grew up again. For Hezekiah s 
reforms, oee Die. JH., TT, pp. 376, 148. 



>engers of Ahaziah, the king of Israel. 93 They took delight 
.n the humiliations that Yahweh inflicted on the gods of 
>ther people, e.g., on Dagon, the Canaanite corn-god. 94 The 
arge-hearted tolerance and the universalism of Yahwist wor- 
ship that could prompt an Isaiah to say, 95 " In that day shall 
Esrael he the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing 
in the midst of the earth," or a Malachi to make Yahweh 
say, 96 " From the rising of the sun even unto the going- down 
of the same my name is great among the Gentiles ; and in 
every place incense is offered unto my name, and a pure offer- 
ing," were absent at the time of the Palestinian settlement 
and Yahweh was veritably " a jealous god, 11 w insisting 
upon the strict obedience of the Israelites (whom He had led 
out of Egypt and through the wilderness and the sea to a 
land of comparative plenty and peace and formed into one 
nation) * and probably also prohibiting the indigenous 
population from worshipping him with full rites. 99 
This exclusiveness the Jews have practically retained 
ever since, although matrimonial and other alliances 
with the native population, a limited amount of 
proselytization and the sojourn of a large body of 
strangers (qtrim) in their midst at one time must 
have inevitably led to the inclusion of a large number of non- 
Israelites within the Hebrew fold : as a matter of fact, 
Judah was an object of contempt to Israel exactly be- 
cause a larger admixture of non-Jewish population had led 

Iiods, op. cit., p. 455; also p. 818. 

M 1 Sam. 5.8. See also Lode, op. eft., p. 128 for note on Dagon. 

*Isa. 19.24. 

Malachi 1.11. 

* Lods points out (op. cit., p. 313) that in this the Hebrews did not stand 
alone, for other nations had equally jealous gods. 

w The period of the sojourn at Kadesh, culminating in the journey to 
14 the holy mount," seems to have been the decisive moment when the Hebrew 
tribes formed themselves into a nation, and adopted the worship of Jahweh as 
their national religion. Lods, op. ctt., p. 180. 

Por attitude towards different tribes and nations, see, for instance, 
Peut. 28.8-8. 


to the debasing of the Yahwist cult there. 100 Idolatry, how- 
ever, soon made its appearance all over Palestine some- 
times in a gross form and at other times in a subtle form and 
images of Yahweh and the bra/en serpent were plentiful in 
number even in Jerusalem where the Great Temple of 
Yahweh, housing the Ark which David had brought to Zion, 
should have rendered them unnecessary. Household gods 
(teraphim) too, a legacy of the nomadic times, continued to 
exist undisturbed by the side of Yahweh, of whom probably 
the baals were formidable rivals in men's allegiance but the 
teraphim were not foemen worthy of his steel. 

The survival of primitive beliefs of the pre-Mosaic age, 101 
which the Hebrews shared with other nomadic Semites, also 
hindered the spiritual development of the Yahweh-concept. 
There was not only a fully organised cultus of the ancestors of 
families and clans and of heroes as well, but also a wide- 
spread belief in " invisible powers, gods, demons, spirits, the 
souls of things " and in the capacity of man to control them 
by appropriate acts and utterances, 102 either in the in- 
terest of the individual or in that of the tribe. 
B'essings, cursings, oaths and mourning rites \ure 
supposed to have a magical effect; 103 divination and 
prophecy were regarded as methods of revealing the divine 
will ; 104 springs and rivers could mete out punishment and ex- 
pose guilt in trials by ordeal without any reference to God ; 
and evil could be averted by charms, talismans and ornaments 
that had magical properties. Evil spirits in animal and 
hybrid forma infested the deserts and the tombs, and also 
caused madness, leprosy and plagues of all kinds. Trees, 
springs and mountains, on the other hand, were the haunts 

100 Gideon's golden ephod and the graven image at Dan prove that even 
image worship wab no innovation of Jeroboam. W. TV Smith, Old Testament in 
the Jewish Church, p. 244. See Die. Bib., II, p. 447. For the post-exilic attitude 
cf the Jews towards the Samaritans, see Cheyne, Jewish Religious Life after the 
Exile, p. 26 f. 

Ml See Lods, op. cit., p, 209 f; Die. Bib., II, p. 445 f, art. 
See p. 258 supra. 

1W Num. 22-24. 

lOJLods, op. cit., p. 479. 
f., p. 299f. 

276 SOME 

and abodes of gods, and Moses is represented as putting a 
boundary round the foot of Mount Sinai lest the people at 
large should touch the mountain impregnated with divine 
energy and have to be stoned or shot through. The gods 
were often looked upon as members of the social group. The 
moon and the stars were regarded as divine and as capable of 
aiding or injuring men. There were, again, taboos of various 
sorts, mostly connected with sex-life, death, food and wor- 
ship, which determined the nature and duration of ceremonial 
purity and impurity and the distinction between clean and 
unclean (or sacred and secular) persons and animals. 105 Blood 
was ceremonially spilt on sacred stones to honour or invi- 
gorate a god (just as libations were offered to departed per- 
sons on pillars near their graves) ; they were kissed (as the 
Black stone of the Ka'ba is still done by the pilgrims at 
Mecca) and anointed with oil ; incense was burned to them ; 
and they were very often erected in holy places and addressed 
as gods. Ceremonial slaughter of criminals and enemies 
(herem) took its rise most probably out of this bloody sacrifice 
to sacred stones, and Yahweh was often represented as direct- 
ing the Israelites to put whole populations to the sword and 
punishing them in case of default. 106 It appears, therefore, 
that, as Lods observes, " the Hebrews peopled their world, 
in pre-Mosaic times, with powers and spirits whom they 
regarded in much the same way as the Canaanite country- 
folk seemed to have thought of their baals. And this com- 
parison helps us to understand why the Israelites, when they 
settled in Palestine, found it so easy to adopt the religious 
practices of the natives : it was because these practices cor- 
responded to the ideas and the needs which had been those 

106 Rel. Sys. of the World, p. 58. 

1061 Sam. 15.3; JOB. 6.21; 7.19-25. 

In the unique Moabite stone (circa 850 B.C.), now in the Louvre at Paris, 
which is " the oldest historical inscription in any dialect nearly allied to Hebrew," 
the Moabite Mesha describes how, after sacking the Israelite sanctuary of Nebo, 
he slew the whole population 1 ' 7,000 men and male sojourners and women and 
female sojourners and maidens "in honour of Chemosh (and Ashtor). flee The 
Legacy of Israel. Ed. by E. ft. Sevan and Charles Ringer, p. xiiif; also Camb. 
Anc. Jlwt., HI, pp. 372-3. Dent. 20.12-3 limited destruction to the males only 
ill the case of distant cities. 


of their ancestors." The only difference was that whereas 
the baals of the Canaanites were " pre-eminently local and 
agricultural divinities, controlling the fertility of their res- 
pective spheres of influence," the elohim worshipped by the 
Hebrews in their nomad period were protectors and patrons 
of human clans, tribes and confederations. 107 

Here then is as unpromising a beginning for a mono- 
theistic spiritual religion as one might imagine ; and yet out 
of this grew up not only the ethical monotheism of the Jews 
but also the daughter creeds of Christianity and Islam, the 
one in opposition to and the other in imitation of Judaism. 
Certain circumstances favoured this development of the 
Hebrew religion. From the very beginning Yahweh's pri- 
mary relation was to the tribes of men and not to departments 
of nature. The nature and origin of the physical 
world formed a very subordinate quest and the Creation 
passages are all comparatively late. God's existence 
was taken for granted and the heavens which declared 
the glory of God and the firmanent which showed His handi- 
work were regarded even at a later time not so much as pre- 
mises to prove God's existence, with the help of the 
cosmological and teleological arguments as used by later 
theologians, as conclusions following from His existence : 10B 
at the dawn of Hebrew religious history nature's happenings 
did not seem to have furnished any serious problem at all. 
Moses declared to them the god of their fathers, the god of 
Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob the same disinclination to 
worship a novel and unknown god is manifest here as in 
Hinduism. Although this Mosaic message did not over- 
throw the gods of other tribes or the popular cults of the 
nomads, referred to above, it reinforced the revelation to 
Abraham 109 who was supposed to have discarded the many 
gods whom the fathers of the Jews had served " in the days 
of Terah, beyond the River " (Jos. xxiv. 2, 15). By laying 

iff Lode, op. oft., p. 241. 

i flee J. B. Dummelow, Tlie One Volume Bible Commentary, p. xcixf. 

l8ee Die. Bi., H, p. 446, art. IDOLATRY. 


emphasis on the aspect of relation to man as the god of the 
Israelites whose patron and protector Yahweh was declared 
to be the Mosaic revelation at once invested God with a 
personal character. Yahweh did not exercise subtle influ- 
ence on the world like an astral being nor did His major 
labour consist in providing a home for man out of chaos or 
cosmic waters. He was conceived to hold moral relations 
with man, although at first that morality was mostly con- 
nected with magical practices and ceremonial observances. 110 
That the magical and the miraculous formed a 
considerable part of the divine manifestation would 
be evident from the pages of the Pentateuch. God's 
spirituality did not include originally very much 
beyond the attribute of consciousness ; it was very often 
conceived materialistically as a subtle substance, a mystic 
fluid or energy which could be poured out (Isa. xxix. 10) and 
which it was dangerous for all but the elect and the ceremo- 
nially pure to touch or handle. Not only did theophanies 
often take material forms presumably because to the ignor- 
ant nomads spiritual inspiration by God would have 
conveyed little or no meaning but the taboo of 
divine presence was so great that looking into the 
contents of the Ark or touching it involved, in the 
case of the unauthorised, instantaneous death, as if 
by lightning-stroke, 111 and death was the penalty for 
those who would touch Mount Sinai when Yahweh descend- 
ed on it to reveal Himself to Moses, 112 although the act might 
be unintentional and no moral turpitude might be involved. 
It is necessary to know these primitive origins, for otherwise 
we shall fail to understand why the High Priest alone 113 is 
authorised to enter the Holy of Holies on the annual Day 
of Atonement and to cleanse the people that they may be 
clean from all their sins before Yahweh (Lev. xvi. 30), and 
why "the mass of the people have no direct access to their 

uo See W. li. Smith, Old Testament in the Jewish Church, p. 228f. 

mi Sam. 6.19; 2 Sam. 6-6, 7; Ley. 16.1. 

UlExod. 19.12, 21. 

iu See W. B. Smith, Old Test, in the J. Ch. t p. 446. 


God in the sanctuary" and "only the prie-iK who live under 
rules of intensified ceremonial purity, and have received a 
peculiar consecration from Jehovah Himself, are permitted 
to touch the holy things," 114 pretty much as in orthodox 
Hinduism the Brahmanas alone are authorised to worship the 
gods and touch the sacred objects. "The prophets hH no 
power to abrogate any part of the law, to dispense with 
Mosaic ordinances, or institute new means of Grace, other 
methods of approach to God in lieu of the hierarchical 
sacraments." 115 Tt is not inconceivable also that the insti- 
tution of kingship and the building of a temple for Yahweh, 
which are almost synchronous in Israelite history, were both 
modelled on the practices of the surrounding nations and that 
the persistence of the temple-rituals was a relic of the Canaa- 
nite religious ceremony just as many Eoman Catholic practi- 
ces to-day are survivals of pagan customs. The Ark of the 
Covenant was in fact a sort of compromise between spiri- 
tuality and idolatry : 116 it satisfied the craving for a visible 
symbol without providing an image and the tradition that 
it contained the two tables of Divine injunction must have 
invested it with an ethical meaning. The nearest modern 
analogue of this would be the worship of the Granth Sahib 
by the Sikhs who venerate and adore in much the same wa.y 
their scripture on this side idolatry. 

The conception of God as a person could lead in Judaism, 
as in other religions, to divergent types of develop- 
ment. Thus personification might lead to anthropomorphism 
or thinking God in terms of man. This anthropomorphism 
might be taken literally or figuratively, i.e., God 

r - > - \ * - -' ' " , 

I" W. B. Smith, Old Testament in the Jewish Church, p. 229. 
Even the Levites, who formed a second cordon of holy ministers 
between the people and the priests, might not touch either ark or altar, 
lest, boh tVv and tl fl pries' s should die (Num. 18.3), not to talk of the laity 
(Num. 17.18) ; and the stranger was ordained to be put to death if he approached 
uigh unto the priests in the tent of meeting or the tabernacle of the congregation 
(Num. 18.7). 

llW. B. Smith, Old Testament in the Jewish Church, p. 231. 

iw The common idol was an uncouth figure of clay or wood ; the more pre- 
tentious was of gold or silver, or at leas* plated. -Dto. Bi. t II, p. 445. fSee I** 


might be invested with the limitations of man or He 
might be described in terms of human character as this is 
the nearest category applicable to him. When anthropomor- 
phism extends to the attribution of human organs to God we 
have the basis of idolatry. Physical descriptions are not rare 
even in the oldest traditions. " Yahveh moulds man like a 
potter ; he plants the garden of Eden and walks through it in 
the cool of the evening like a rich Mesopotamian. Adam 
hears his footsteps. He comes down from heaven to see the 
building of the Tower of Babel. He eats and drinks with 
Abraham, and the latter washes his feet. He straggles with 
Jacob and allows himself to be overcome." 117 He smells the 
sweet savour of Noah's sacrifice after the Deluge. He is 
described as having eyes, oars, a mouth, nostrils, hands, 
a heart and bowels, and his breath as being long or 
short. 118 It is difficult to say that " the language only testifies 
to the warmth and intensity of the religious feelings of the 
writers ;" 119 it is far more probable that these realistic tales, 
like the fables in the Puranas, were devised to satisfy certain 
types of mind. Tn fact, there is a method in the 
presentation of these human characteristics, for they be- 
come rarer in God's dealings with the Hebrew race in course 
of time. The underlying idea probably was that there was a 
time when God conversed with the patriarchs of the race face 
to face and that, therefore, Yahweh was to them not an object 
of faith or speculation but a visible presence in human form. 120 
This remark may be illustrated further by the way in 
which Yahweh deals with Moses. Possibly the narrator 
wished to indicate the spiritual advance effected in the creed 
of Moses by representing Yahweh as manifesting Himself 
through signs and symbols through a burning bush, a 
column of smoke or fire or what is vaguely described as His 

iw IV Alviella. op. cit., p. 216- 

U8 Lode, op. 0it. v p. 457. See, however, the explanation in A. Cohen, The 
Teachings of Maimonides, p. 84 f (Grid* to the Perplexed, 1.46). 

iw Die. Bt., H, p. 108. 

i Attempt is made to defend invisibility by suggesting that God appears 
to men in dreams or at night and not in waking or normal moments. 
wanted to leave Jacob as the day was breaking (Gen. 32.961. 


glory. There is a hesitation about visible presence to Moses : 
although we are assured that with Moses Yahweh " will 
speak mouth to mouth, even manifestly and not in dork 
speeches, and the form of the Lord shall he behold " (Num. 
xii. 8), we find that what Moses actually saw was the back 
of Yahweh when He took away His hand from his eyes (Ex. 
xxxiii. 23). Later Jowiah commentators, in order to atte- 
nuate the physical presence still further, held that it was the 
knot on the phylacteries of Yahweh that Moses saw ; m and 
the Qur'an, which is generally more opposed to anthropomor- 
phism than other scriptures, lays down that Moses never 
saw the form of God but swooned away when a mountain was 
turned into dust by Him in answer to his prayer that God 
should show Himself to him (Sura vii. 139). That the popu- 
lar belief about Yahweh with a physical frame revived in later 
times is undoubted, for from the 3rd century to the 10th 
century A.D. various speculations about God's stature, tfie 
paraphernalia of the heavenly court and even God's daily 
occupations were indulged in, till the Karaites began to ridi- 
cule this whole method of mystical anthropomorphism. 122 
The Deuteronomy, as is to be expected, denied altogether 
that Moses saw Yahweh (iv. 32) and added as a reason that 
otherwise people would be tempted to worship idols (iv. 
15-19) : 123 " Take yo therefore pood heed unto vourselves ; 
for yo saw no manner of form on the dav thnt the Lord spake 
unto you in Horeh out of the midst of the fire : lest vo cor- 
rupt vourselves, and mako von a erraven imnp-o in the form of 
any figure, the liVono^o O f rnnlo or female, the likonoss of nnv 
beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that 
flieth in the heaven, the likeness of anything that creepeth 

in The Talmudists represented God not only as wearing the phylacteries 
but also as reading the Torah much as a pious Jew of the times used to do. 
See EKE. vi. 295 

Ml BEE. vi. 296. 

Canon Lindsay Dewar points out that this Deuteronomic legislation was 
responsible for diverting the nation's imagination to the Temple and, after its 
destruction, to the Messiah and the idealised Zion. It was also responsible for 
fastening the imagi lation on the letter of the law. See Imagination and Religion. 
p. 86. 



on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water 
under the earth : and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto 
heaven, and when thou seest the sun and the moon and the 
stars, even all the host of heaven, thou he drawn away and 
worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath 
divided unto all the peoples under the whole heaven." But 
very often this invisibility was qualified by two ideas. The 
one is the belief that Yahweh is not really invisible but that 
no one can see His face and yet live (Ex. xxxiii. 20). The 
other is that Yahweh may sometimes show His form and 
yet choose not to kill, as when He spared the lives of Jacob 
(Gen. xxxii. 30), Manoah and his wife (Judges xiii. 22), 
Gideon (Judges vi. 23), Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abilm and 
seventy of the elders of Israel (Ex. xxiv. 9-11). 

But the creation of man after the image of God (Gen. 
i. 26-27), if taken in a physical sense, is bound to cause 
difficulty ; 184 and this is likely to be accentuated by the possi- 
bility of " sons of God " marrying the daughters of men 
(Gen. vi. 2), whatever meaning we might attach to the word 
' sons f here. 185 The difficulty was sought to be overcome by 
suggesting that nil descriptions of Yahweh's form were 
figurative or illusory. The various organs stand for the 
different powers and attributes of God and have no physical 
meaning. In the Targums (i.e., versions in the Aramaic ver- 
nacular) " all anthropomorphisms, with few exceptions, are 
paraphrased and spiritualised. Thus, e.q., by the eyes and 
ears of God are understood His omniscience, bv the hand His 
omnipotence, bv the mouth of God His immediate communi- 
cation with man, or inspiration (e.q., Nu. 12 ). The finger 
of God in Ex. 8 19 is rendered * this is a plague from before 
Jahweh.' -" m Or, again, all physical activities of God were 

1* For the spiritual and rabbinical interpretation of Man being made in the 
image of God in the Book of Zokar, see Abelson, Jewish Mysticism, p. 180 f (esp. 
p. 185). 

Die. Bi. 9 II, p. 917. 

"EBB. Ti. 995. Maimonidaf in hii Guide to ike Perplexed adopts a simi- 
lar tarim (a*9 BBS, rili. 849). 


either qualified by the use of the words * as it were, 1 or des- 
cribed in vague general terms or entirely removed. Thus, He 
did not actually eat with Abraham or wrestle with Jacob 
it only appeared as though He did. 127 The informed reader 
will readily remember in this connection Ezekiel's visions of 
God in the opening chapter of his book m where, speaking 
of the enthroned God, he writes that " upon the likeness of 
the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon 
it above " and that this was " the appearance of the likeness 
of the glory of the Lord." But as the pure spirituality 
of God did not seem to have been adequately secured even 
by these devices, a number of intermediate beings and angels 
were latterly conceived to take over all physical manifesta- 
tions of God. Thus in the later Jewish literature man was 
supposed to have been created not in the image of God 
but in that of the ministering angels. 129 Similarly, 
wherever the personal appearance of Yahweh had originally 
been described, one or other of the many theologumena 
took its place. The substitutes were invested with the an- 
thropomorphic functions of Yahweh so that His own trans- 
cendental and spiritual character might not be affected in any 
way. Of these passing appearances of Yahweh, which do not 
exhaust His being completely, 130 mention may be made of 
' the angel of Yahweh/ which has been described as ' a tem- 
porary descent of Yahweh into visibility ;' 'the face of 
Yahweh ' which partially manifests Him, possibly in asso- 
ciation with the sacred Ark ; ' the glory of Yahweh f which is 
His manifestation to Israel on solemn occasions in the form 
of fire and brightness in general ; * the name of Yahweh ' 
which is His manifestation in the attitude of help. 131 

W Die. Bi.. n, p. 206. See Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p. 289, art. 


i*Ecek. 1.26, 28. With this may he compared the more, realistic descrip- 
tions of Daniel, 7.9 and Bev. 4.2. 

Die. Bi., n, p. 206. 

uo See Die. Bi., Extra Vol., p. 688 f, for a full description of these different 
forms. See Lods, op. cit., p. 460; Cheyne, Tradition* and Belief* of Ancient 
Itracl, pp. 277 f, 528. 

i Islam adopted the term ' Face of Allah ' in imitation of the Jewish des- 
cription and the Mystics of Islam also used the expression ' the Name, of Allah,' 


There is no doubt, however, that what the Deuteronomy 
pictures as a possible consequence of seeing God's form was 
what was actually practised by the Israelites at large and 
that personification led to idolatry in various forms. We are 
told, for instance, that in the private sanctuary of Micah the 
Ephraimite there were an ephod, teraphim, a graven image 
and a molten image, 132 and also that Gideon made an ephod 
of gold ; 133 and it may be presumed that regular religious ser- 
vice was held in their honour with the help of priests, as in 
Hindu temples to-day. The figure of God was probably human 
in most cases ; 134 but, as in popular Hinduism to-day, other 
forms also were not unknown. The bull-image of Dan and 
Bethel, the brazen serpent, the massebah, the ark, the 
asherah, the teraphim and the ephod (the exact nature of 
the last two being still a matter of dispute) 135 were all asso- 
ciated with the Yahweh-cult and lowered the religion even 
below the anthropomorphic level and reduced it, in the eyes 
of the prophets to a primitive superstition. But even 
anthropomorphism puts obvious limitations on divine omni- 
presence ; no wonder, therefore, that it should be necessary to 
allot to Yahweh an earthly seat. At a time when He was 
not regarded as having His seat in heaven (of which 
Genesis xxviii is the first intimation) the multiplication of 
His sanctuaries in the old Canaanite high places and in new 
seats was a real spiritual gain inasmuch as the partial limita- 
tion incidental to a human figure was thereby re- 
moved. 136 Still, human limitations lingered on and 
Yahweh had to leave either heaven or Sinai in 
order to inspect distant things and events and to 
render effective help to His chosen race. 1 * 7 From this 

i Judges 17; 18. Lode thinks that there was only one statue! (op. eft., p. 480 

W Judges .34.7. 

u*t6. Bt., Extra Vol., p. 627. See J. Yahuda, Law and Life according 
to Hebrew Thought, p. 25 (Representation of the Deity). 

iMLods, op. eft., pp. 480-1; Die. Bt., n, p. 201; Extra Vol., p. 628 f. 

we 6ee Die. Bi., Extra Vol., p. 646. 

itf Though Heaven was His throne, He manifested himself over all thft 
earth, to Abraham in Ur and Canaan; to Jacob in Mesopotamia, to whom He 
alsowid, ' Fear not to go down into Egypt; I will go down with thee ' (Gn. 46.8); 


point of view, Josiah's concentration of all worship at Jeru- 
salem was a doubtful immediate blessing, for it must have 
diverted a portion of the popular veneration from the public 
cult of a unitary Yahweh to the private worship of the many 
household gods (teraphim), 138 as the people could not have 
easily changed over from the cult of a near but limited 
presence to that of a distant but ubiquitous Yahweh. It is 
needless to add that a purely spiritual God with a centre 
everywhere and a circumference nowhere was established in 
the popular mind after prophetic denunciations of centuries, 
and that the disappearance of the Ark 139 and the destruction 
of the Temple of Jerusalem materially contributed to the final 
overthrow of idolatry among the Jews. 140 

The spiritual development of Judaism may be measured 
not only by its success in working off the imperfect represen- 
tations of Yahweh through visible symbols but also by its 
transcendence of that anthropopathy with which early 
thought had invested Him. 141 It is in the prophetic 
writings 142 that Yahweh could say that He is God 
and not man, for in earlier books He is so far assimi- 
lated to man that not only human traits but 
also human imperfections cling to Him. 143 If, like man, He 

tc Moses at Sinai and in Egypt; to His people, going before them into Canaan 
(Ex. 33.15). There, though His presence was specially attached to the Ark, He 
also revealed Himself to Joshua as the captain of the Lord's Hosts (Jos. 5.14). 
Die. Bi. t n, p. 203. 

138 See W. B. Smith, Old Testament in the Jewish Church, p. 248, on the 
loss of personal contact with God on account of the suppression of the local 
sanctuaries; also p. 864. 

139 Five things which existed in the first Temple were lacking in the second 
These were (a) Fire from on High, (6) Anointing Oil, (0) the Ark, (d) Holy 
Spirit (i.e., canonical prophecy), (e) the Urim and Thummim. Abelson, The Im- 
manence of God in Rabbinical Literature, p. 261. See p. 267 n(2) for later 
substitutes of (6) and (c). 

140 For the incorporeality of God in Maimonides, sqe Cohen, op. cit. 9 p. 86 f. 
See EBB. vii. 842. 

ui See Maimonides, Guide to the Perplexed, 1.60, 57 (Cohen, op. tit., 
pp. 86, 89). 

i Occasionally elsewhere also : see 1 Sam. 15.29' The Lord is not a man 
that he should repent;' also Num. 23.19. 

143 For an instructive list of quotations on this topic from Talmudio litera- 
ture, see P. I. Henhoa, A Talmudic Miscellany, p. 1281. 


is a conscious personality, like man also is He limited in 
knowledge. Being not omniscient/ 44 He has to come down 
from heaven to see the building of the Tower of Babel 145 and 
to verify the reported wickedness of Sodom. 146 Possibly also 
the direction to Moses to ask the Israelites to mark their door- 
posts and lintel with the blood of a lamb, so that He might 
" pass over " their houses and smite the first-born in 
Egyptian homes only, was prompted by a sense of His 
limited knowledge, although the motive to test their obedience 
was also present. 147 He possesses most of the human emotions, 
good and bad. " He repents that He made man (Gn. 6 6 ), 
and also of the evil that He intended to do (Ex. 32 14 ) ; He is 
grieved (Gn. 6 6 ), angry (1 K. 11 9 ), jealous (Dt. 6 15 ), gracious 
(Ps. Ill 4 ) ; He loves (1 K. 10 9 ), hates (Pr. 6 16 ), and much 
more." 148 He is afraid of the men that He had Himself 
made lest they should obtain too much power that by eating 
of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge Adam should be like 
Him and that by building the Tower of Babel men should 
reach heaven and gain divine power ; and He behaves towards 
them just as Indra does towards aspirants after his heavenly 
throne, i.e., He confounds them and crushes them. 149 A cer- 
tain amount of anthropopathism is inevitable in any descrip- 
tion of God if there is to be any distinction between His 
attitude towards saints and that towards sinners. It is only 
in philosophies like those of Sankara and Bradley, where 
Brahman is impersonal and the Absolute super-personal, that 
characterisation belongs to a lower form of the Ultimate 
Principle I6vara in the one case and God in the other 
and the Ultimate Ground of all being becomes indeterminate. 
Later Judaism did not escape this tendency altogether when, 
presumably under the influence of Greek Philosophy, God 

144 See Num. 5.15; 1 Kings 17.18. A meal offering of memorial, bring- 
ing iniquity to remembrance, was practised. See Lods, op, ctt., p. 467. 
"6 Gen., 11.5. See Cheyne, op. tit., p. 301 f. 
uGen. f 18.21. 
itfExcxL, 12.18. 

i Die. Bt., n, p. 198. See 1 Sam. 15.11 and also Num. 28.19, 1 Sam. 15.29. 
1* Sea L. T. Hobhonse, Moral* m Evolution, n, p. 121. 


was removed far away from the world and contact with Him 
was effected through intermediate beings, emanations or mani- 
festations, possessing some sort of substantial existence of 
their own by the side of God Himself. The early writers, 
however, did not have the scruple of the philosophers or of 
the authors of the Septuagint version or the Targum litera- 
ture, who either used paraphrases for these human thoughts 
and emotions, when used of God, or else removed them whole- 
sale. 150 They not only used freely these expressions regard- 
ing God but had no scruple even in suggesting that God in- 
cited the Israelites to steal the silver and gold of their Egyp- 
tian neighbours on the eve of their flight from Egypt as a 
timely provision against the flays of impending necessity ; U1 
that He agreed to put the innocent Job to trial at the sugges- 
tion of Satan ; 182 and that He sent lying spirits to entice Ahab 
so that he might be killed. 153 

What hindered the moral development in the idea of 
Yahweh was the reminiscence of the needs of nomadic days. 
The Hebrews of those times thought in terms of their tribes as 
did the other Semites, and the character of Yahweh was mo- 
delled on tribal needs and tribal ideas. Their salvation lay in 
close unity for purposes of defence against the Egyptians and 
the Philistines and offence against the Canannites whose 
fertile land they coveted. Naturally, therefore, the God that 
revealed Himself to Abraham and Moses was primarily 
needed for tribal expansion and tribal cohesion so that a 
nation might evolve out of scattered groups. This explains 
two features of Yahweh 's character His martial temper 
and His partiality towards Israel. Yahweh is the leader of 
the Israelites in war. He was their only King before the 

1M Die. Bi., H, pp. 906-7. 

1.12; 2.6. 

MS 1 Kings 22.20. See Lods, op. cit., p. 469 f. Thus Abimelech would 
have been slain by God if he had lain with Abraham's wife, Sarah, although he 
did not know her to be another man's wife and would then Jiave bften innocent 
from a moral point of view (Gen. 90.8*7), 


establishment of the monarchy j 164 He is the lord of host 181 
Yahweh Zeba'dth who often leaves His dwelling place on 
Sinai to lead the Israelites personally to victory. 166 His angels 
fight the battles of Israel and even the stars in their course 
fight against Sisera at His command, as described in the Song 
of Deborah (Judges v.20), and the captain of His host 
comes to the help of Joshua (Jos. v. 13 f). He makes known 
His march by the rustling of leaves (2 Sam. v. 24), He gives 
out a lusty shout on arrival at the Israelite camp - He lays 
low their enemies or pursues them with great slaughter. To 
quote Lods : 158 "In time of war, Jahweh aided his people 
in counsel as well as in action : he aided them in counsel by 
revealing through oracles, dreams, or omens, the fortunate 
or fatal result of the intended campaign, and by pointing out 

the necessary strategy; in action he aided them by 

spreading panic among the enemy, by pouring down hail 
upon them, by causing the sun and moon to stand still in 
order to allow his people to dispatch the fugitives, by pro- 
ducing a storm or an earthquake In Hebrew poetry 

Jahweh is ' a man of war ' ; he overwhelms his enemies 
with his arrows and smites them with his sword." As His 
visible presence, the Ark was carried in front of the advanc- 
ing Israelite army, and there was tumultuous joy at its arrival 
at the camp. " Only so much is clear that after the per- 
manent establishment of the Ark in the mysterious darkness 
of the adytum of the temple, its former connexion with the 
war-god, Jahweh Zeba'dth, must have vanished from the 
popular consciousness, and that in place of this the awe- 
inspiring majesty of this God must have come into the fore- 
ground." 159 It is in his capacity as the war-lord of the 

M4 Monarchy was instituted with mixed feelings or rather viewed differently 
at different times. See Judges 8.02-3; 1 Sam. 8.10 f; 1 Pam 9.16. 

IHgee Die. Bi., Extra Vol., p, 686 f. f for the various meanings of this 

i In Num. 21.14 reference is made to a Book of the Wars of Yahweh which 
is now lost. 

157 Knm. 28.21. 

UBIjods, op. tit., p. 462; see also p. 294. 

W Die. Bi., Extra Vol., p. 687. This change is reflected in the change in 
the meaning of the term nebi'im which originally signified probably ***** who 


Israelites that Yahweh insists on the wholesale slaughter of 
conquered enemies and the destruction of their properties a 
direction that was softened at a later time and also originally 
in the case of distant cities. 160 His treatment of 
offending Israel or else of its enemies often looks like a puni- 
tive measure more allied to military discipline than to justice 
tempered by mercy, and very often the offence is merely 
technical. He is frequently represented as quick to take 
offence, subject to " unaccountable humours " M and re- 
vengeful to a degree whether the picture is a survival of 
ancient belief or a warning against moral and spiritual lapses 
it is difficult to say. 162 

These unattractive features of Yahweh disappeared as 
Israel succeeded in its wars with the Canaanites ; but still no 
quarter was shown to those who forsook Yahweh 163 and went 
after the local baals. Israel was the people of Yahweh and 
had special responsibilities in the matter of worshipping Him 
and Him only. Yahweh ceased to fight Israel's battles, and 
oven used Assyria and Babylon as avenging rods, when 
Israel forgot its covenant with Him. The Prophets were 
responsible, however, for bringing about a change even in 

were seized in holy frenzy and produced ecstatic cries in connection with the 
batt'es of Ynhweh, the war-god, but at a later time those who revealed the spiritual 
aspect of religion (although they too were always imbued with a national spirit). 
In early times the prophets were called ' tha chariots and 1'orsemen of Israel ' (2 
Kings 2.12; 13.14). See Die JH.. Extra Vol., p. 653, 655, 656. They originally 
corresponded to Dervishes. See Huxley, Religion without Revelation, p. 285. 

iMThe spirit of fanaticism becomes dangerous and homicidal when it eggs 
en the worshippers to aggressive wars asjainat people of alien cults and when it 
justifies as pleasing to its god the cruelties inflicted on the conquered. This is the 
spirit of old Israel and of Islam. L. R. Farnell, Tlie Attnbvte* of Go//, p. 76. 

Deut. 20.19 forbids the destruction of fruit trees which 2 Kings 8.19 enjoins. 

Ml See Exod. 88.19. 

lThe great prophets and their post-exilic disriples explained the anger of 
Yahweh by the injustice of man (the people, the generation or the individual) 
which required to be punished: but the ancient Israelites, while not unmindful of 
the relation between guilt and punishment, thought of manv more causes why 
God -should take offence or regarded Divine anger as inscrutable. See Loos, 
op. cit., p. 467. 

168 Another great offence in ancient times was offence a<rainst Yfthweh's own 
perron or sinning against the T*rd a Sam. 2.25) as when Eli's son* took their 
portion of the sacrifices before Yahweh had received His .ewa or before the other 
guests had theirs a Sam. .2.18-6), 



this conception of Yahweh. It is not out of anger but out of 
His love that He chastises sinning Israel so that she might 
return in penitence to her rightful Lord. 164 In a well-known 
passage of Exodus (xxxiv. 6) God is described as " full of 
compassion and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in 
mercy and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving 
iniquity and transgression and sin; 1 ' but the passage ends 
with the threat that God " will by no means clear the 
guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children ; 
and upon the children's children, upon the third and upon 
the fourth generation." It was left to the Prophets to incul- 
cate the first part of this description and to modify the last 
part in so far as it related to punishing the guiltless posterity 
of sinners. St. Paul may be said to have partially undone the 
work of the Prophets regarding the second part in so far as 
he made the whole human race the inheritors of the sin of 
Adam and found in the unmerited suffering of Jesns the 
Divine scheme of human redemption : the Doctrine of 
Original Sin is fortunately not necessary for a proper appre- 
ciation of the life and death of Jesus or the message of 
salvation preached by him. 165 The whole burden of the 

1M Cf. The Proverbs 3.11-2 : My son, despise not the chastening of 
the Lord ; Neither be weary of his reproof : For whom the Lord loveth he re- 
proveth; Even cs a father the son in whom he delighteth. 

iSee L. R. FarnelK The Attributes of God, p. 125; also O. Pfleiderer, 
Paulinism, Vol. I, Chaps. I and II.; Die. Bi. 9 Ext^ Vol., p. 666; also Qen. S.fil; 
Ps. 51.745; Job 14.4; 15.14; 25.4 f. 

" The frst signification (both in origin and importance) of the redeeming 
death of Christ is connected with the sentence of guilt, by which man, as the ob- 
ject of the wrath of God, was placed under the curse of the law, subjected to 
death as the punishment of sin. Man is ransomed from this disastrous state of 
punishment in that the demand for his punishment is satisfied by the death of 
Christ as a vicarious expiatory sacrifice. Through this ransom the death of 
Christ is the cause of the appeasing of the wrath of God, or of the manifesta- 
tion of his love, and thus it is a purely objective act of God or Christ in our be- 
half, for the purpose of our rescue. But. at the same time, the death of Christ 
frees us from the power of sin which dwells in the flesh, for this principle of sin 
u destroyed, first in Christ himself, and then in us through our mystical com- 
munion with him. From this point of view the death of Christ as a mortification 
of the flesh is the commencement of a subjective ethical process, which goes on 
and completes itself in u*."-~ Pfleiderer. Paitlinism, I, p. 92. 

It is interesting to note that Rai Bahadur G. C. Ghosh, the founder of the 
present Lectureship, although a devout Christian, does not think that Christ came 


later Prophetic teaching, on the other hand, is that in- 
dividuals are punished for their own sins by Yahweh and not 
for the iniquities of their ancestors, kings or 
leaders, as was preached in olden times when, for instance, 
the Pharaoh's personal guilt entailed the death of all the first- 
born of Egypt 166 and iJavid's blunder in taking a census in 
spite of Joab's warning sent seventy thousand innocent 
people to death while he himself escaped. 167 

That, in spite of a change in the concept of 
Yahweh, the Temple-service should be marked by 
extensive ceremonial slaughter of animals of different kinds 
and this should be acquiesced in by the Prophets 168 must 
be due to the fact that Yahweh absorbed the magical 
sacrifices of blood, which were originally made to 
fetishes in the pre-Mosaic days of the Semitic tribes (and 
confirmed by Moses in his code of religion), and also retained 
the character of the war-lord. The Law was to the Jews the 
only means of Divine grace 169 and the law laid down in 
minute details the quantity and quality of each object of gift 
to Yahweh. All that the Prophets could do, therefore, was 

as the Second Adam to undo the sin of the First. In an article entitled ' Lamen- 
tations of Christ ' in the Amrita Bazar. Patnka (Calcutta) of 26th Dec., 1933 
(Dak edition), he writes : "In iny Father's kingdom the offering of a ransom for 
one's sin or the pleading by another on behalf of the sinner dees not avail : every 
unrepentant sinner shall suffer for his sin, but none in his stead; heaven will not 
be filled by unregenerate beings." See also his article on The Theory of a special 
divinity of Chrut in the Proceedings of the Eleventh Indian Philosophical Con- 
yress, p. 187 f. 

1872 Sam. 24.15; see, however, 1 Chr. 21.1. See R. M. Jones, Religious 
Foundations, p. 92. 

1W See Dummelow, The One Volume Bible Commentary, p. Ixxiii, for later 
references than O.T.; also W. R. Smith, Old Test in J. Ch., p. 238 f. 

iw See Die. J5t., II, p. 208 : " Thus God Himself was regarded as devoted 
to the study of His own Law, and not only of the Law but even of the rabbini- 
cal developments of the Law. By day He ' is engaged upon the 24 Books of the 
Torah, the Prophets, and the Hagiographs, and by night He is engaged upon 
the 6 divisions of th3 Mishnah. God is even represented as having companions 
in the study of the Torah. At least we have, according to Baba Mezia, 85b, even in 
heaven an assembly, like the high schools on earth, devoted to the investigations 
of the Torah. Here the great "Rabbis sit in the order of their merit and of their 
knowledge of the Law, studying Halasha, and God studies with them. They dis- 
pute with one another and lay 'down HalacbaY 1 


to point out that a just and merciful god wanted something 
more than offerings of animals and cereals and liquids 
in order to be pleased. 170 In their zeal for multiplying reli- 
gious services and for collecting the sacred tithes m the 
priests forgot the oppression and hardship likely to be caused 
to the poor. The centralisation of all worship at Jerusalem 
had, again, an adverse effect on those Levites who were 
scattered through the provinces ; they lost their priestly occu- 
pations and were thrown upon the charity of the landed 
classes along with the strangers, the widows and the or- 
phans. 172 The earlier Prophets could not condemn the sacri- 
fices altogether, as, before the return from Babylon, gifts to 
the sanctuary were spontaneous and private, and not, 
as after Ezekiel's and Ezra's reforms, an official business 
conducted with the help of " a fixed tribute in kind upon all 
agricultural produce and flocks." 173 But they and 
their successors had hard words for those in power 
who were buying out the poor proprietors of land 
and who thought that justice could be sold, un- 
lawful pleasures of all kinds indulged in, and the 
poor neglected or oppressed with impunity, provided 
the sacrifices sent to the Temple were regular and ample. 1 '' 4 
" Hear the word of the Lord", ye rulers of Sodom ; give ear 
unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what 
purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the 
Lord : I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of 
fed beasts ; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of 
lambs, or of he-goats. When ye come to appear before me, 
who hath required this at your hand, to trample my courts? 
Bring no more vain oblations ; incense is abomination unto 
me ; new moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies, I 

"'W: R. Smith, Old Teat, in J. Ch. t p. 240. 

"1/6M., p. 442 f. 

m Dent. 12.12, 18; 14.27, 29; 18.11, 14; 26.11 f. 

1WW. B. Smith, Old Test, in J. Ch., p. 875. During pre-exilic days the 
Ttotnple was the king's sanctuary and the regular offerings were his gift. The 
people, however, agreed to pay a regular voluntary poll-tax for the regular 
offerings of the Second Temple. 

6.7, 8; Jer., 7. See W. B. Smith, Old Test, in J. Ch. t p. 872. 


cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting. Your 
new moons and your appointed leasts my soul hateth : they 
are a trouble unto me ; i am weary to bear them. And when 
ye spread lorth your hands, 1 will hide my eyes Irom you ; yea, 
when ye make many prayers, 1 will not hear : your hands 
are full of blood. \Vash you, make you clean ; put away the 
evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil ; 
learn to do well ; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge 
the fatherless, plead for the widow." m JDeutero-Isaiah is 
more outspoken against the whole Temple-cult: " Thus 
saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my 
footstool : what manner of house will yc build unto 
me and what place shall be my rest? For all 
(these things hath mine hand made, and so all these things 
came to be, saith the Lord : but to this man will I look, even 
to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that 
trembleth at iny word. He that killeth an ox is as he that 
slayeth a man ; he that sacrificetli a lamb, as he that breaketh 
a dog's neck ; he that offereth an oblation, as he that offereth 
swine's blood ; he that burneth frankincense, as he that 
blesseth an idol." 176 In the same strain speaks Micah : 
" Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself 
before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt 
offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be 
pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of 
rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, 
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed 
thce, man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require 
of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk 
humbly with thy God?" m In spite of these denunciations, 
so long as the Temple lasted there could be no 
question of abolishing the rituals. But during the 
Babylonian exile the nation had learnt to worship 
Yahweh in a different manner, for outside Jerusalem 
MO sacrifice could be offered and people had to eat 

"5 Isa. 1.10-17; also 59.1 f. See Amos 5.21; 1 Sam. 15.22. 
weisa. 66.1 f. 
in Micah 6.6*8. 


4 unclean food/' Hence after the return of the rem- 
nant from captivity, in addition to some improvement in the 
temple-worship, which was resumed with some enthusiasm 
by the returned exiles as a public cult with a new code of 
rules, the exilic custom of " the devotional study of the 
scriptures, the synagogue, the practice of prayer elsewhere 
than before the altar," which were " all independent of the 
old idea of worship, ' ' was continued as a daily religion and 
made up for " the narrowing of the privilege of access to God 
at the altar." m A growing sense of abiding sin and the 
necessity of Divine forgiveness required a different God from 
the one whose wrath was not turned away except after in- 
ilicting injury, and who insisted on his quota of vengeance 
for a transgression of his ordinances. 179 The Prophets taught 
that Yahweh was ever ready to extend His loving forgiveness 
to the penitent " without the intervention of any ritual sac- 
rament " for He is ' God and not man " (Hos. xi. 9). " God 
is with Israel in his sin, only because He has implanted 
within him this virtue of repentance. 1 ' 180 This penitence, 
however, must show itself not in outward observances but in 
active charity and by undoing the wrong done : " Is it to 
bow down his head as a rush, and to spread sackcloth and 
ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an accept- 
able day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have 
chosen? to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands 
of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break 
every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and 
that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when 
thou seest the naked, that thou cover him ; and that thou 
hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light 
break forth as the morning, and thy healing shall spring forth 
speedily : and thy righteousness shall go before thee ; the 
glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward." (Is. Iviii. 5-8.) 

In the conviction, therefore, that God's punishment is 
not wanton or vindictive but prompted by a desire to reconcile 

"8W. B. Smith, Old Teat, in J. Ch., p. 379. 

in/bid., p. 372. 

wo Abehon, The Immanence of God in Rabbinieal Literature, p. 140. 


man to Himself through the purification of suffering and re- 
pentance Israel could not but look upon Yahweh as the well- 
meaning Father who chastises him out of love. 181 Long 
before the Lord's Prayer was uttered or penned the Jews had 
learnt to look upon Israel as God's son and Yahweh as the 
Heavenly Father (Is. Ixiii. 16, Ixiv. 8) towards whom trust- 
ful resignation was the only proper attitude. 182 He became the 
Holy One of Israel 183 who looked to men's motives and not to 
their acts. Israel is to circumcise his heart and not his fore- 
skin to find favour with Yahweh. God is to be worshipped 
in spirit and in truth if His redeeming mercy is to be sought. 
Nor did the prophets nor even the legalists leave the people 
in any doubt about what they meant by a spiritual religion. 
Here, for instance, is an illustrative quotation from Ezekiel 
(xviii. 1-9, 23) which may be compared with the Quranic in- 
junction quoted at the end of the first chapter : " The word of 
the Lord came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye 
use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The 
fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are 
set on edge? As I live, saitli the Lord God, ye shall not have 
occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all 
souls are mine ; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of 
the son is mine : the soul that sinneth, it shall die. But if a 
man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath 
not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes 
to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his 
neighbour's wife, neither hath come near to a woman in her 
separation ; and hath not wronged any, but hath restored to 
the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath 
given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked 
with a garment ; he that hath not given forth upon usury, 

l Proverbs 8.12. 

182 Wendt, in his System der Christlichen Lehre, counts no less than 23 
passages in the Old Testament in which God is conceived as father exactly in the 
same way as we find in the gospels. Dhirendra Nath Chowdhury, In Search of 
Jesus Christ, p. 20. (See other references there.) See also Abelson, Jewish M?/*ti- 
cism, p. 79 f; The Immanence of God in Rabbinical literature, p. 51. See art. 
GOD in Dio. Bf., II, p. 208 for references. 

3 For the evolution of the meaning of 'Holy,' see Die, Bi., Extra Vol., 
p. 681 f , 


neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his 
hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between 
man and man, hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my 
judgments, to deal truly ; he is just, he shall surely live, saith 
the Lord God." " Have I any pleasure in the death of the 
wicked? saith the Lord God ; and not rather that he should 
return from his way, and live? " 184 

The failure of Judaism to become a world-religion in 
spite of these spiritual developments must be laid at the door 
of that Jewish exclusiveness which is at once the wonder 
and the despair of all nations who have come into contact v. T ith 
the world's most despised and persecuted race. Prom 
the very dawn of his history Israel has suffered 
from a tribal paranoia with its characteristic symp- 
tom? of megalomania and persecution delusion. Israel 
is God's chosen race, Yahweh's own anointed seed, His 
first-born : to Israel of all nations has He chosen to reveal 
Himself and His name. 185 It is not to individuals in their 
private capacity that God has chosen to speak nor did He 
wait for them to approach Him with a spotless and spiritual 
life before making His wishes and graces known. 186 The 
glorification of Israel was a part of Divine policy through 
him had Yahweh decided to spread the message of true devo- 
tion and upright conduct. When He promised to Abraham 
that He would make a great nation out of his seed 
or called Moses to preach His. name, He was 
dealing with them as representatives of the 
future race. He estn Wished a covenant between Himself 
and Israel as is done between two nations .so that no scope 
might be left for prevarication and no chance given to the 
race to plead its inability or unwillingness to ratify the tran- 
saction. He wrote down the conditions of Israel's guidance 
in two tables of stone and sealed the covenant with Moses by 
summoning to His presence, in addition to Moses and Aaron, 

1M flee DM. Bi.. Brtra Vol., p. 675. 

MS Dtc. Bi., Extra Vol., p. 684 (the relation of Tahweh to Israel), This ap- 
pears specially in the Deuteronomy. 

W. B. Smith, Old Test, in J, Cfe,, pp. 285-6. 


eventy-two representative Israelites who all celebrated the 
event by a friendly feast. 187 But God did something more. 
He gave them Canaan as an inheritance after leading them 
out of Egypt, saving them from the pursuing Egyptians 
and also providing for them in the wilderness. The nation 
was to remember that Yahweh was its special god and that the 
worship of any other god before or beside Him was forbidden 
nor were matrimonial alliance with the pagan Canaanites, 188 
worshipping at their sanctuaries and consulting their oracles 
permitted. The sin of a single leader was regarded as a default 
of the nation, for in those nomadic and patriarchal days the 
tribe had a collective responsibility and the iniquities of the 
fathers were visited on their sons. 

In its original form this exclusive alliance of Yahweh 
with Israel did not always prove morally satisfactory. 
Moses could insinuate that foreign nations would not think 
highly of Yahweh if after extending His protection to the 
Israelites He should refuse to help them in their distress it 
was more or less a point of honour with Him to help Israel 
against the foreigners who were backed by their own gods. 189 
"Thus," as Kuenen observes, 190 "in the conception of the 
people, Yahweh's might, or, if you prefer to put it so, 
Yahweh's obligation to display his might, must often have 
overbalanced both his wrath against Israel's trespasses and 
the demands of his righteousness." But as soon as Yahweh 
was invested not only with moral attributes but with an 
ethical character by the Prophets, this partiality for Israel 
had to disappear from His nature, just as with it disappeared 
also the reality and necessity of the gods of other nations. 191 
Yahweh's scheme of the government of the world now includ- 
ed not only Israel but also Assyria and Babylon, the rods 

. 24.9-11; also Nam. 11.18 f. It is curious that the Septuagint ver- 
sion should be ascribed to seventy or sevpnty-two translators the two being addi- 
tional numbers like those in the above places of the O.T. 

iWExod. 84.15-8; Deut. 7.2; Judges 2.2. See Lods, op. tit., p. 408. 

1W Whence the inflictions on Pharaoh (Gen. 12.17) and Abimelech (Gen. 
20.4 f). 

wo Kuenen, op. oft., p. 116. 

iWFor the solity of Yahweh, see Die. Bi., Extra Vol., p. 680, 



with which Yahweh had scourged Israel because of the lat- 
ter's faithlessness to the covenants with Him : He could also 
punish the non-Israelites or use them as aids to Israel's 
revival if He so pleased. 192 Yahweh is no longer the 'God of 
gods' and 'Lord of lords' (Deut. x. 17) hut is God (Deut. vii. 
9) and 'beside Him there is none.' 193 

The only logical conclusion of this position is that 
Yahweh is the God of the Jews and the Gentiles alike and 
that not only for Israel but for the whole human race Yahweh 
nlomi is God. This would have entailed the bestowal of 
the full rights of Judaism on all who acknowledged Yahweh 
as God and also an active enrolment of Gentiles within the 
fold of the Jewish Church. It appears, however, that just 
as tho non-Aryan tribes of the hills and the plains were 
slowly absorbed within Hinduism in India without much 
missionary activity and could generally obtain only an in- 
ferior social status, so also the non-Israelites of later times 
were permitted to follow Jewish religious customs but did not 
obtain the full rights of spiritual citizenship. The contempt 
for the Gentiles was quite open and dining with them or enter- 
ing their houses brought about ceremonial uncleanliness. 
Even the Hellenizing Jews were not free from this anti- 
Gentilic feeling, 194 and it appears that this contempt was 
carried over to Christianity itself where the quarrel between 
the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians was fairly 
acute and the work of St. Paul among the Gentiles was 
bitterly opposed. 196 No wonder, therefore, that in spite of 
some proselytism in their midst these did not acquire even the 
rights of the strangers (qerim) or sojourners who lived in close 
association with the Jews. Thus, though it was permitted 
to the non-proselyte Gentiles to bring offerings to Yahweh, 
they had admission only to the outer court of the Temple, 
much as to a Hindu village god some Indian Musalman might 

a. 8.0, 10, 19 f; 10. See specially Kaenefc, op. eft., p. 194!.; al*o 
IB. 44.98. 

"Dent. 4.85, 80; 1 King* 8.60; 9 Kings 19.15; Isa. 87.16. 
Ut Legacy of Israel, p. 88. 
Bf.. m, e. 140. 


bring gifts in fulfilment of vows without being allowed en- 
trance into the sanctuary. During the early days of settle- 
ment in Canaan Israel took it for granted that other nations 
had other gods, and Israelite kings contracting mixed mar- 
riages took it as a matter of course that their foreign wives 
should have temples raised to their own gods a 
belief which was subsequently worked up into the 
theory that Yahweh had assigned to the other 
nations the sun, the moon and the different cons- 
tellations for their gods. But the concession granted to 
the heathen neighbours could not be extended, without serious 
risk, to the sojourners in their own midst, 196 for these would 
spread their contaminating cult to their Jewish masters, pat- 
rons, protectors and friends. Hence the practical neces- 
sities of the case demanded that these foreigners in their own 
midst should be differentially treated. Being originally per- 
mitted to act only in menial capacities in the Temple, they 
were gradually invested with the same rights and duties as 
the Israelites themselves and subjected to the same laws of 
cleanliness and purity in the later Priests' Code (as 
contrasted with the Deuteronomic legislation). Thus no 
difference existed latterly between Israelites and gMm in the 
following matters : " The ger is to participate in the Feast 
of Weeks (Dt. 16 lof ), of Tabernacles (16 Mf ), in the 
offering of first-fruits (26 "), the Sabbath rest (5 14 ), the 
tithes (14 -f ), the gleanings of the field, etc. 024 19f ), and 
he is to have equal justice done to him (24 14 )". 197 In the 
Priestly Code, * established after the drastic reforms of 
Ezra and Nehemiah, " the ger is placed practically .on the 
same footing as the native Israelite ; he enjoys the same rights 
(Nu. 35 * ; cf. Ezk. 47 ffi ), and is bound by the same laws, 
whether civil (Lv. 24), moral and religious (18 * 
20 2 24 16 ; cf. Ezk. 14 7 ), or ceremonial (Ex. 12 19 , Lv. 16 
jy a 10 12 is 15 22 18 , Nu 15 14 * * 19 10 ); the principle 

196 For the attitude of the Israelites towards foreigners, see Die. Bi., HI, 
esp. p. 51, art. FOREIGNER. 

1W Die. Bi., III, pp. 166-7, art. GBR. See J. Yahuda, Law and Life ac- 
cording to Hebrew Thought, VII. The Status of Strangers, 


" One law there shall be for the home-born and the stranger," 
is repeatedly affirmed (Ex. 12 49 , Lv. 24 , Nu. 9 14 15 15 16 29 ), 
the only specified distinctions being that the gr, if he would 
keep the passover (which under no circumstances is the 
foreigner permitted to do), must be circumcised (Ex. 12 *), 
and that an Israelite in servitude with him may be redeemed 
before the jubilee (Lv. 25 48f ), a privilege not granted in the 
case of the master's being an Israelite" (Lv. 25 40f .> 
Having lived as exiles twice, namely, in Egypt and in Baby- 
lon, the Israelites had a soft corner for the strangers in their 
midst and conceded to them the right to adopt the Jewish 
faith ; but in relation to foreigners they were almost absolute- 
ly exclusive and it is only a prophet like Isaiah that could 
promise to the heathen a share in the glorious future of the 
Israelite faith (Is. Ivi. 6-8; c/. Zeph. iii. 9). When Israel 
will have acted as a light to the Gentiles and the servant of 
the Lord would bring to them His message, Jerusalem shall 
turn into a house of prayer for all nations and unto Yahweh 
shall all knees ultimately bow (Is. xlv. 23). ' There is no 
God but Yahweh and Israel is His prophet.' 19S 

That these noble sentiments should be more preached than 
practised is a fact of history that cannot be ignored or ex- 
plained away. Whatever tendencies towards universalism 
might have been present in the Prophets, the Rabbis who 
succeeded them gradually limited the applicability of ' the 
Fatherhood of God and he sonship of Man ' to the Jews 
alone. 159 Judaism thus deliberately excluded the heathens 
from the salvation of Yahweh which some of the prophets had 
preached as being destined for all alike. The reason of this 
is to be sought in the post-exilic emphasis on legalism, which 
the destruction of the second Temple and the development of 
mysticism failed to counteract completely. Hinduism 
affords an instructive parallel in this matter. There too 
speculative philosophy affirmed the equality of all souls 
before, or rather their identity in and through, Brahman ; 

Bi. t m v p. 167. 
l"Abelflon, Jewiih Mysticitm, p. 80; p. 96. 


bat practical religion limited the blessings of salvation to the 
Hindus alone and latterly resisted the inclusion of non- 
Hindus within the fold of Hinduism. The domain of Yahweh 
similarly remained limited to the Jews and the original prose- 
lytes. 200 Although the whole development of Judaism from 
Moses to Malachi was directed towards establishing the 
authority ol Yahweh over the Jews and the Gentiles alike and 
the equality of all moral individuals before Yahweh, 201 the only 
solid advance made was that the reality of other gods by the 
side of Yahweh was denied and idolatry in all forms was 
banished altogether from the Jewish religion. The Gentiles 
remained outside the Jewish fold in spite of the fact that 
Hellenizing Jews were innumerable and Greek philosophy 
was largely utilised in building up a conception of the opera- 
tion of God in the world. 

In other directions also the original limitation of Yahweh 
was sought to be removed but sometimes with equally dubious 
final results. The original Judaism had no otherwordly 
gaze m and Yah well 's covenant did not at first extend beyond 
death. Yahweh was originally the god of the living and not 
of the dead and His punishments and rewards had reference 
to this life alone. Much of Yahweh's hard dealing with indi- 
viduals, tribes and races can be explained if we remember 
that the Jews did not originally believe that Yahweh could 
pursue the prosperous sinner beyond the grave or reward 
straggling virtue with post-mortem happiness. The horror of 
death to a pious Jew consisted in banishment from Yahweh's 
jurisdiction and realm and in incapacity to praise Him ; that 
is why Hezekiah prays for an extension of his life on earth. 208 
The dead became elohim in their graves or in Sheol and they 
were worshipped, appeased and approached by the living for 
deriving benefit and guidance. Tt is only gradually fhat 
Yahwism replaced this cult of the dead by representing them 
as being devoid of knowledge and strength, and, about the 

MO Legacy of Israel, p. 29. 

Ml See Marti, op. ctt., pp. 173, 236f . 

MI Legacy of Israel, pp. 24, 39. 

* to 88.16-19: Cf. Ps. 80.9-, 88.1-6, 11.2; 115.17. 


second century B.C., it asserted the jurisdiction of Yahweh 
orer the dead also in the shape of a judgment after death, a 
resurrection and an immortality. 814 ' To the moral attributes 
of Deity, to His supreme pity and justice, there are endless 
references in the Psalter and the Prophets; to the divine 
omnipresence there are but few.' " It was a kingdom won 
for Yahweh when it began to be believed that He was present 
not only in the highest heaven but also in the lowest pit.* 06 
Everywhere Yahweh reigns supreme. This extension of 
Yahweh's jurisdiction was a direct effect of exile in a land 
where similar beliefs about the destiny of the departed held 
sway. But, conversely, a contraction of His realm occurred 
when, in imitation of the Zoroastrian model, Judaism began 
to exonerate Yahweh from the creation of evil and ascribed it 
to Satan, the Semitic counterpart of the Zoroastrian Angro 
Mainyu." 7 The motive was undoubtedly good, for it was 
felt that a good and merciful Yahweh could not, consistently 
with His character, create evil. 808 Eve was tempted by Satan 
in the garden of Eden, and through him did Sin and Death 
invade mankind a conception which has been so graphical- 
ly described by Milton in his Paradise Lost. The peculiar 
Christian view of redemption through the Logos that took 
flesh and brought Messianic salvation to mankind was based 
upon this later Jewish belief of the responsibility of Satan for 

the fall of Adam. 

The idea of the holiness of Yahweh and the 
smfulness of man became almost an obsession in 

iMLods, op. fit., pp. 218 f; lso p. 465. This was closely connected 
with the doctrine of the Messiah whose advent was believed to be imminent in the 
Book of Daniel where the doctrine of individual resurrection is fiwt found. Bee 
Marti, op. ett., p. 889; also p. 385. James On in The CMttten View of Qod end 
the World (Appendix to Lecture V. The Old Testament Doctrine of Immortality), 
p. 900 f., states that the doctrine of resurrection is " one of the very oldest 
doctrines in the Bible." 

"Die. Bi., H, p. 2OT, art. GOD. 

riiods, op. ., p. 470. 

*Ps. 0.4, " Evil shall not sojourn with thee," was used as text by the 
Midwsh to dissociate God from evil and to interpret such passage* as Gen. 1.6, 
and 8.18-17 where the pronominal fern " 1 " is substituted for Tahweh. 


later Eabbinical literature. He was considered to 
be so holy that pious Jews were afraid of uttering 
His name and used a substitute, like Adonai or 
Elohim, or a paraphrasis, when reading His name aloud. 809 
Even the Babbis pronounced the name with bated breath and 
quickly slurred over it. 210 The mystery surrounding the Di- 
vine name, which is so often repeated in the Old Testament,* 11 
was deepened in Eabbinical literature, which began to dabble 
in the occult lore of its formation out of the letters of the 
Hebrew alphabet m and it became a symbol of Yahweh's 
transcendental purity. Blessings were invoked on the Divine 
name whenever it was mentioned just as peace is invoked on 
Muhammad by the Musalmans whenever his name is uttered. 
Now, this excessive reverence could have but one effect, name- 
ly, to remove God as far as possible from this world of sin and 
suifering. Hosea had spoken of Yahweh returning to His 
place till offence was acknowledged * 3 and the Song of Songs 
Rabba had described the successive withdrawals of the Sheki- 
nah of God to the ascending tiers of heaven with the increas- 
ing s : ns of men ; 214 but, as Abelson points out, 215 "to the old 
Rabbinic mind there was always a very real glimmering that 
however all-pervading and all-embracing God may be in an 
immanental sense, He is yet marked off from the world by 
some not easily discernible line of separation." 

w Abelson, The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature, p. 207. See 
Die. Bt., II, p. 1206. 

no Abelson, Jewish Mysticism, p. 27. 

See, for instance, Bxod. 8.14 and Judges 18.18. 

m Abelson, Jewish Mysticism, p. 26; also Ch. V. The Book ' Yetsirah ' 
(p. 98 f). 

as Hosea 5.15. 

*M The most striking passage in this connection is Song of Songs Babba vi : 

a The original abode of the Shochinah was among men. When Adam sinned 

it ascended away to the first heaven. With Cain's sin it ascended to 
the second. With Enoch to the third. With the generation of the 
Flood to the fourth. With the generation of the Tower of Babel to the fifth. With 
the Sodomites to the sixth. With the sin of the Egyptians in the days of 
Abraham, it ascended to the seventh. Corresponding to these, there arose seven 
righteons men who brought the Shechinah down, back again to earth. These were 
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi. Kehath, Amram and Moses. "-Abelson. The Jmma- 
ntnee of Ood in Rabbinical Literature, p. 186 (see also Jewish MyetMim, p, ^ 

Hi Abelson, The twnanenoe of Ood in RabbinMl Iterator*. & 88. 


Christian writers, who are often unconsciously biased 
in their estimate of Judaism, like to dwell upon the distinc- 
tion between the transcendental deity of the Old Testament 
and the outward observances necessary to please Him, on the 
one hand, and the pervasive presence of the Christian God 
and the inwardness necessary to worship Him, on the other. 
They think that after removing God to transcendental heights 
Rabbinical Judaism invented a few mechanical devices to 
bridge the gulf between God and the world. Thus Dummelow 
observes, 216 " What is called the transcendent view of God be- 
came predominant ; that is to say, He was so far exalted 
above the world as to be out of touch or communication with 
men. He who had formerly tabernacled with His people and 
spoken familiarly to the prophets, seemed now to dwell in a 
far-off heaven where no personal intercourse could be had with 
Him." Now let us hear what a Jew has to say to this 
charge, for, as I have maintained in connection with 
Hinduism, it is always good to refer to the followers of a faith 
for a more correct estimate of the vital significance of dogmas 
and rituals. Says Dr. Abelson, 217 " A theology which posits 
a far-off God, separated from man by an unfathomable dis- 
tance, could never give that large scope to the doctrine of re- 
pentance which we find in the pages of the Rabbins. This 
doctrine is of itself sufficient to stamp Judaism as a religion 
of the heart. And if mysticism is "religion in its most acute 
intense, and living stage," then must Rabbinic Judaism hold 
a foremost place in the category of mystical religions. For 
few could have realised tbe Presence of God more acutely, 
more intensely than the Rabbinic Jew, who aimed at sancti- 
fying even the smallest details of the physical life, because 
he regarded nothing as being too humble to come within the 
purview of Him, whose glorv fills the universe, and whose 
word is the mainstav of all." 

We may well believe that in later Judaism the problem 
was to reconcile a Holy God with a sinful world, a God who 

WJ. B. Dummelow, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, p. Ixvii. See also 
Harnack, What is Christianity?, p. 52. 

T Abelson, The Immanence of God in Rabbinieal Literature, pp. 15-* 


was far removed and a God who was yet accessible, a God 
whose form was unknown and a God whose manifes- 
tations were yet not infrequent in Israel's history, 
Yahweh was regarded as having a manifestation in 
the physical world, and also a manifestation in 
human minds, in the tribal life of Israel, and even in human 
history and cosmic happenings. The most notable of these 
mediating conceptions is the Holy Spirit which later on 
played such an important part in the Christian doctrine of 
the Trinity. 218 Although there- arc numerous references to 
Spirit and the Spirit of God in the Old Testament and the 
Apocrypha, it is only in two places (Ps. li. 11 and Is. Ixiii. 
10, 11) of the Old Testament that the term Holy Spirit 
occurs ; it is only in the Talmud and the Midrash that it 
is most frequently used. These terms were intended to con- 
vey the idea of Divine presence in the world of men and 
things. When an act of heroism or good government is per- 
formed on behalf of Israel, or when the nation receives a phy- 
sical or spiritual quickening, it is the Spirit of God that is 
operating. When an individual is possessed with a sudden 
fit of inspiration or when he acquires a permanent insight 
into the will of God and a moral inclination, he is drawing 
his strength and impulse from the Divine Spirit. It is the 
Spirit of God, again, that brings the world into being, fills it 
with living and sentient beings, and preserves it in existence 
and guides its destiny : 219 in this aspect it is called the Wis- 
dom of God which is "a cosmic power, the all-encompassing 
intelligent will of God manifesting itself in the creation and 
preservation of the world, and as an eternal and unerring 

*M See Abelson, The Immanence of God in Rabbintcal Literature, Cha. 
XIV-XXI, for an exhaustive treatment of this subject (esp. p. 198). 

Mills remarks (in Our Own Religion in Ancient Persia, p. 11) : " Ahura 
Mazda, the Living Lord, the Great Creator (or possibly the * Wise One '), has a 
most Bountiful, or most Holy Spirit, who is sometimes identical with him, and 
there is precisely the same difficulty in distinguishing between Ahura and His 
Holy (?) Spirit, which meets us in the Semitic when we endeavour to decide 
positively in the analogous obscurity. (Often we cannot tell whether Yahveh s 
attribute or His creature is meant)." m 

*In Zohar mysticism the En-Sof (the Infinite) was regarded as having 
similar functions. See Abelson, Jewish My*tiri*m, p. 142 f. 



guide and ruler of mankind." " The ever-present Spirit of 
God began to be conceived in two different ways. In the Old 
Testament a sensuous presence of Yahweh to Moses, Isaiah 
and Ezekiel had been alluded to : " God's Immanence, His 
accessibility, His nearness, His all-encompassing and all-em- 
bracing reality became so deep-rooted a conviction to the 
minds of individual Kabbis here and there, that the barriers 
separating the intellectual and emotional aspects of mind 
broke entirely away, and they saw with the eye, and heard 
with the ear, sights and sounds from an unseen world, traces 
of a Presence which impinged upon them, invaded them, fill- 
ing them with high and divine impulses, raising them to the 
position of the elect whose state of life is a complete unity of 
being with God." m The appearance of the Spirit of God 
as Light or Fire or Sound or a Dove was an article of creed in 
Rabbinical literature before Christ's time, and Christianity 
took it over as a well-known method of Divine manifestation. 
The mystic Jehuda Ha-Levi (1085-1140) taught in the 
11 Kusan " (Book iv. iii) that " by means of a system of 
vigorous self-discipline it was always possible for the worthiest 
spirits among the Israelites to have that degree of communion 
with God which enabled them to see God by the medium of 
what is termed ' Glory ' or ' Shechinah ' or ' Kingdom/ 
' Fire/ ' Cloud,' ' Image,' ' Likeness,' ' appearance of the 
bow'." "* Although doubts were sometimes expressed as to 
whether the manifestation of God was possible outside the 
Holy Land of Palestine or the Israelite nation, a few bold 
thinkers conceded that any one could so sanctify his body, 

OAbelson, The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature, p. 109. 
p. 218. 

p. 252. 

1 Ten times the Shechinah came down into the world : at the garden of 
Eden (Gen. iii. 8); at the time of the Tower (Gen. xi. 5); at Sodom (Gen. xviii. 
21); in Egypt (Exod. iii. 8); at the Bed Sea (Ps. xviii. 9); on Mount Sinai 
(Exod. xix. 20); into the Temple (Ezek. xliv. 2); in the pillar of cloud (Num. xi. 
25). It will descend in the days of Gog and Magog; for it is said (Zech. xiv. 4) 
" And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives." A voth d'Bab. 
Nathan, Ch. 34 (quoted in Hershon, A Talmudio Miscellany, p. 145; see Inc. cit. 
for the gradual ascents of the Shechinah), 


mind and spirit as to be capable of receiving the Holy Spirit 
of God. 223 The only condition of Divine inspiration was in- 
tellectual wisdom, moral richness and physical strength. 224 
The stages of spiritual perfection have been thus summarised 
by B. Phinehas b. Jair (2nd century A.D.) : " The Torah 
leads to carefulness, carefulness to diligence, diligence to 
cleanliness, cleanliness to abstemiousness, abstemiousness to 
purity, purity to piety, piety to humility, humility to fear of 
sin, fear of sin to holiness, holiness to the Holy Spirit, Holy 
Spirit to the Resurrection of the Dead." ** The Jews re- 
jected the Christian doctrine of Incarnation as in their reli- 
gious literature, especially in Rabbinical literature, it was 
laid down that overy one could reach the ideal of Holy Spirit 
by guiding his faculties aright. Here is a great resemblance 
between Hinduism and Judaism, for the former also 
recognises the capacity of each individual soul to 
realise its potential infinity. Like Hinduism, again, 
Judaism admitted that legalism and ceremonialism 
had their social and spiritual value, but that the in- 
dividual soul could at all times realise its mystic union with 

, The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature. Ch. XXL 
Holy Spirit in its relation to Non-Jews; also pp. 209 ., 370. See Jewish Mysti- 
cism, pp. 4f, 96; also W. B. Smith, Old Testament in the Jewish Church, pp. 366-7 
in this connection. 

* Abelson, The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature, p. 247; Jewish 
Mysticism, p. 89. 

Maimonides enumerates the following as the essential factors of a prophetic 
faculty : " (1) Physical strength, so as to endure the strain involved in the 
.moments of ecstatic communion. (2) A training of the intellectual faculties to the 
highest pitch of perfection. (3) Great imaginative power. This is closely allied 
with emotion; the vision, etc., that the prophet beholds is (?) the outcome of 
emotional imagination. (4) Exceptional moral discipline. (5) The absence of 
all physical, intellectual or moral disturbances. There must be no pain, no 
sorrow, no feeling of degradation. (6) The will of God, into which an element of 
the 1 miraculous or unaccountable always enters." 

Maimonides rejects the suppositions that God can choose whomsoever He 
pleases for infusing His spirit and that men by training their intellect to the 
necessary pitch of perfection by study and other methods can acquire prophetic 
power. He thinks that in addition to intellectual and moral perfection there must 
be a Divine inspiration or call to prophecy. See Abelson, The Immanence of God 
in Rabbinical Literature, p. 246 f. 

Abelson, The Immanence of God <n Rabbinical Literature, p. 271 f. 


God. 226 Prayer took the place of sacrifice in 6his method of 
approaching God. 227 In fact, the Essenes seemed to have ob- 
served only the Sabbath and to have neglected most of the 
other prescribed practices of the Jewish religious life. 228 

But there was one thing which the Jews always dreaded 
and that is the identification of God and man. They had re- 
sisted the temptation of divinising their patriarchs (possibly 
they had humanised the pagan gods into patriarchs) and they 
had also refused to admit that a unitary God could 
be partially incarnated on earth. 229 Jewish mysticism 
could never rise to Upanisadic heights, and state- 
ments like ' I am Brahman/ * I and my Father 
are one,' etc., would have sounded blasphemous to 
Jewish ears. As Montefiore observes, 230 " It (Jewish Theism) 
clings to two aspects of God, summed up in the twofold 
metaphor, which, though a metaphor, yet, as Judaism insists, 
describes a reality, ' Our Father, our King.' Abhinu, malkenu. 
So Judaism addresses its God, and it refuses to let go either 
term, either metaphor." Thus while, on the one hand, 
" Hebrew faith has left to mankind no finer witness than the 
readiness with which it received and the fullness in which 
it has transmitted, by prophet as well as by psalmist, the 
gospel of the Divine participation not only in human sorrow 
and suffering in all our affliction He tvas afflicted but even 
m shame and trouble of men's guilt, and in spiritual agony 
for their redemption and holiness," 2a " the danger of a 

226Abelson, The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature, p. 285. 

227 Ibid., p. 325. 

228Abelson, Jewish Mysticism, p. 30; Die. Bi., Extra. Vol., p. 53; ERE. v. 
396 f. 

God in His transcendent holiness seemed to have vanished from the Bin- 
stained land The sense of fellowship with Jahweh was broken. Yet His Law 

and promise were there in written form. In three directions relief was sought : 
first, by filling up the interspace between God and man with heavenly hierarchies; 
second, by the formation of qnietist circles like the Essenes, who sought, away 
from the clash of the world's warfare, the lost secret of the ancient fellowship with 
Jahweh ; and third, by the cherishing of apocalyptic dreams, in which the Day 
of the Lord was seen as the sheer and sudden act of God breaking in upon the 
course of history. ERR. vii. 508. 

229 Legacy of Israel, p. 108. 

230 nid.,' Epilogue, p. 619. 
* Ibid., p. 26. 


degeneration into Pantheism through an identification of the 
Deity with the world," on the other hand, " is avoided by 
making the Shechinah or Holy Spirit a possession, a kind of 
emanation of God." m God is a Person and cannot, there- 
fore, be dissipated into an impersonal essence of the world 
even though His presence is ubiquitous. To solve this diffi- 
culty Judaism not only evolved certain phenomenal appear- 
ances of Yahweh but even personified them. Although 
Jewish writers think that the Jewish-Hellenistic * Wisdom,' 
the ' Word ' of the Fourth Gospel, the ' Memra ' of Targu- 
mic literature and the ' Shechincih ' of the Talmud and Mid- 
rashim all point more or less to " the immanent manifesta- 
tion of Divine Wisdom, Divine Power, Divine Love, Divine 
Justice," m they are themselves obliged to admit that these 
were often anthropomorphically viewed as dealing directly 
with the world so that the holiness and inscrutability of 
Yahweh might not be compromised by contact with a sinful 
world. 234 In consonance with this oscillation of thought we 
find that, on the one hand, God is supposed to create the world 
through ten agencies which arc really His attributes, namely, 
wisdom, insight, cognition, strength, power, incxorableness, 
justice, right, love and mercy (and which supplied the basis 

832 Abels on, The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature, p. 368. 
233 Abelson, Jewish Mysticism, p. 78; Immanence of Cod in Rab. Lit* t p. 153. 

The other personifications are Metatron of the Gaonic-mystical literature, 
tho ' active intelligence ' of Gabirol and Maimonides, the ' Ten Sepiroth * of the 
Kabbalists.-See Abelson, Immanence of God in Rab. Lit., p. 167. 

The Memra is a personification, almost a hypostatising, not of the Divine 

Reason, hut of the executive Divine Word All bodily appearance or bodily 

action is ascribed, not to God, but to His Memra The Shechinah differs from the 

Memra as being [originally] impersonal. Prayer and trust arc predicated of the 

one, but not of the other The ' Spirit of God ' is repeatedly spoken of as the 

source of inspiration and of revelation Besides these intermediate agencies 

there is the Messiah (' Son of Man ' in similitudes of Bk. of Enoch), whose func 
tion is esp. that of judgment and of the restoration of tho chosen people. And 
there is also the whole celestial hierarchy of angels. Die. Bi. t II, p. 207, art. 

33* Abel ROT), Jewish Mysticism, p. 71; Immanence of God in Rab. Lit., 
pp. 231 (the Torab is personified as also the Holy Spirit), ?04. 109, 173 n (81) 
(emanation doctrine to avoid change in the nature of God), pp. 159-GO. See esp. 
Oh. VIII of Book o* Proverbs. See Dummelow, op. cit. t p. Ixviii and p. 382 about 
Widom; also Cheyne, op. cit.. p. 88 f. 


of the Ten Sefirot of the Kabbalists), 235 and, on the other, H6 
is withdrawn from the world to such an extent that it became 
necessary to associate with Him certain pre-existent entities 
to take charge of the creation and guidance of the world. 236 
The Babylonian exile familiarised the Jews with the 
Zoroastrian system of angels and personified abstractions, 
and it is likely that the tendency to return to the regal con- 
ception of Yahweh was accentuated thereby and the Apocalyp- 
tic visions and Messianic pictures were modelled on Zoroas- 
trian ideas. It would not be unfair to say that Judaism was 
so far influenced by Platonism, Gnosticism, Mithraism and 
Zoroastrianism during the centuries just preceding the birth 
of Jesus that the immanence of God in the world 
and His nearness to the Israelites as individuals and 
as a nation were in some danger of being lost 
sight of and that the reformation of Jesus originally 
consisted in emphasising the aspect of the Fatherhood 
of God as against the aspect of the Kingship which 
involved the necessity of intermediaries in God's government 
of the world. It is indeed true that in the Gospel of St. 
John and in the Epistle to the Hebrews much of this latter- 
day Jewish belief invaded Christianity also ; but Christianity 
in its original conception must have been directed against 
the mystical philosophy about a transcendent God and the 
formalities, associated with the worship of a Heavenly King, 
as laid down in the books of Law. It must also have taken 
more earnestly the injunction to bring the nations of the 

336 Abelson, Jewish Mysticism, pp. 109, 187 f. The ten Sefirot are the Crown 
(the dynamic force of En-Sof or Infinite), Wisdom, Intellect (or Intelligence), Com- 
passion (or Greatness), Justice (or Force), Beauty, Victory, Glory, Royalty and 
Foundation. Ibid., pp. 140-1; also ERE. ix. 112. 

236 See art. MYSTICISM (Hebrew and Jewish) in ERE. ix. 108 f. 

Before the world came Into existence the following were created :->-(t') the 
Torah (Prov. viii. 22); (2) the Divine Throne (Ps. xciii. 2); (3) the Temple (Jer. 
xvii. 12); (4) Paradise (Gen. ii.8); (5) BVU (; (6) Repentance (Ps. xc. 
2-3); (7) the Name of the Messiah (Ps. Ixxii. 17); ami sometimes also (8) the Pat- 
riarchs and (9) Israel (Ps. lxxiv.2) and (10) the Holy "Land (Proverbs viii. 26). 
Abelson, Jewish Mysticism, p. 70; Immanence of God in Rab. Lit., p. 162, 
271 n(25). 


world to Yahweh's sanctuary ** and to bring home to them 
thy message of the Psalter : m 

" Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? 
And who shall stand in his holy place? 
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.*' 

It certainly did one thing : it proclaimed that the expected 
Messiah had come not only with a message to mankind but 
also with a way of life, lived in the constant presence of God, 
for others to accept and follow. 

237 p 8 . 22.27-8. 

238 Ps. 24.8-4. 



A variety of reasons makes the study of the original form 
of Christianity an extremely difficult task. We do not pos- 
sess an accurate record of Christ's sayings nor was any of the 
Gospels composed before 60 or 70 A. D. Older abstracts were 
utilised and expanded, 1 and in the process many of the 
contemporary religious beliefs managed to effect an entrance. 
The present Gospels were either selected because they sup- 
ported these contemporary beliefs or edited with a view to the 
propagation of certain contemporary ideas. To quote 
Beinach : 2 " There were a great many writings called Gos- 
pels. The Church finally adopted four, guaranteeing their 
inspiration and absolute veracity, no doubt because they were 
in favour in four very influential Churches, Matthew at 
Jerusalem, Mark at Eome or at Alexandria, Luke at Antioch, 
John at EpIicsiiR." What enabled St. Paul, again, to put his 
own interpretation on the life and mission of Christ was the 
fact that the beliefs were even in his time in a state of gristle 
and each interpreter could put his own ideas into the message 
of Christ. 3 The result has been that to-day it is difficult to 

i Beinach, Orpheus, p. 229 f., 236 f; The History of Christianity in Modern 
Knowledge, p. 338 f; Die. Bt., Ext. Vol., p. 5f; James Moffatt, The Approach to 
the New Testament, p. 19, 41 f . 

'Reinach, op. cit., p. 232. For the revelationary or inspirational character 
of the New Testament, see Moffatt, op. cit., pp. 44, 78. There were Churches in 
the second century which road only one gospel, or perhaps two, and these not 
always any of the gospels which afterwards became canonical. Marcion's churches 
were content with one gospel, an edition of Luke. There were even churches of a 
more central type, like the Syrian Church, which for a time preferred a harmony 
like the Diatcssaron to the four canonical gospels. Moffatt, op. cit., p. 50. 

For the Apocryphal Acts, see B. H. Streeter, The Primitive Church, Lect. I 
(see also p. 62). 

3 It is highly probable that no one of the Synoptic Gospels was in existence, 
in the form in which we have it, prior to the death of Paul. And were the docu* 


distinguish the religion of Christ and the Christian religion 
the history of Jesus and the myth of Christ, as Eeinach puts 
it. 4 To understand aright the genesis of the complicated 
literature, now known as the New Testament, it is necessary 
to remember that it originally aimed at reaching the Jews and 
latterly the Gentiles also. It had to take note of the lead- 
ing philosophies and ethical ideas of the time Greek 
(Platonic), Gnostic, Judaic (Philonic and Eabbinic) and 
Roman (Stoic), in formulating its final speculative doctrines 
and moral ideals. It could not also ignore the Mystery reli- 
gions 5 which satisfied the spiritual needs of those who had lost 
faith in the creeds and formalities of their decaying ancestral 
religions and found in the cult of Dionysos-Zagreus, Attis, 
Osiris, Adonis or Persephone (based on the conception of a 
god who could dispense his or her salvation to those who 
would join mystic rites and communal feasts) an cinotionnl 
satisfaction of religious needs and the craving for immor- 
tality. 6 The latest addition to these cults was Mithraism in 
which the worshipper was not, as in the worship of Attis and 
Osiris, identified with the god but Mithras (the Vedic Mitra 
and the Zoroastrian Mithra) acted as a mediator, 7 saviour and 

merits to be taken in strict order of chronology the Pauline Epistles would come 
before the Synoptic Gospels. Christianity etc., p. 338. The inclusion of the 
Pauline epistles in the Christian collction was due to the fact that for the second 
century Paul was pre-eminently " the apostle." Moffatt, op. cit., p. 51. See 
Uoyee, The Problem of Christianity, I, p. xxi. 

JReinach, op. cit., p. 229. 

5 Whatever elements Christianity may have assimilated from the contem- 
porary cults, it never followed tho mystery-religions by making any secret of its 
sacred books. Moffalt, op. cit., pp. 104-5. See pp. 121 and 162 in this connec- 

8 See Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra, pp. 143-8. Mystery 
associations were founded for the worship of many other deities beside 
Attis and Dionysos and Osiris and Persephone; we hear of associations 
which worship as their special deity Zeus, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, 
Hermes, Poseidon, Herakles, the Muses, Asklepios, Serapis. For all we know, 
the great majority of mystery associations had no reference at all to a death of the 
deity, and represented the god or goddess worshipped to bo simply present as in- 
visible guest at the communal feasts. Christianity etc., p. 100. 

7 For the mediating function of Mithra in Zoroastrianism, see E. Ben 
venisto, The Persian Religion according to the Chief Greek Texts, p. 87 f. See also 
Franz Cumont, op. cit., pp. 137-8. 



guide and was worshipped without those orgiastic rites which 
degraded the Dionysiac, the Phrygian (Attis) and the Egyp- 
tian cults. " Mithras- worship had its sacraments with a 
sufficient resemblance to the Christian sacraments for Chris- 
tian fathers to regard them as deliberate counterfeits produced 
by devils. There were lustrations connected with initiation 
and a communal partaking of bread and a chalice of water; a 
sign was imprinted upon the forehead of the man admitted to 
the grade of soldier; 8 the first day of the week was sacred, as 
the day of the sun." 9 It is not unlikely that when the first 
few years of missionary activity among the Hebrews alone 
did not lead to any tangible result, the Apostles turned in- 
creasingly to the Gentiles for converts, and the absorption of 
elements from the beliefs and practices of surrounding paga- 
nism, not radically in opposition to the central tenet of 
Christ's religion, was permitted, practised and possibly en- 
couraged. Thus Eev. C. A. Scott observes, 10 " It was once 
thought possible to deduce from the various documents of 
which the New Testament is composed a uniform and homo- 
geneous theology, to which all the various writers, so to say, 
have subscribed. Closer study has revealed a very different 
situation. Instead of one type of religious thought common 
to all the documents we have to begin by recognizing many 
types, almost as many indeed as are the writers involved. 

8 Unlike Zoroastrianism, Mithras- worship was a definite mystery religion. 
Its rites and doctrines were disclosed only piecemeal to initiates under vows of 
secrecy, as they passed upwards through a succession of grades or orders. The 
highest grade was that of a Father (pater} ; then came the nun-runner (kelio- 
drowus), tho Persian, the Lion, the Soldier, the Concealed (cryphius), the Raven. 
Christianity etc., p. 103. (Sec Franz Cumont, op. cit., p. 152 f.) 

9 Ibid., pp. 103-4. In one point there seems no douht that the Church 
did borrow from Mithraism the fixing of Christmas on 25th December, the birth- 
day of the " Unconquerable Sun " (p. 104). In some Western inscriptions the 
' unoonquered Mithras f is identified with the ' unconquered Sun (Sol invictus) ' ; 
in others Mithras and the Sun appear portrayed as two different r personages 
(p. 101). Mithras-worship did not get its extension westward till the field had 
already been occupied by Christianity and peoms then never to have penetrated far 
outside the army (p. 114). (See Franz Cumont, op. eft., p. 121 : " In reality there 
were two solar divinities in the Mysteries, one Iranian and the heir of the Persian 
Hvare, the other Semitic, the substitute of the Babylonian Shamash, identified with 
Mithra " (see also p. 158 f.) 

MJ6id. f pp. 337-8. 


And in particular there are three major types, the Synoptic, 
the Pauline, and the Johannine, along with certain others 
which may be called minor, as less fully elaborated and loss 
influential upon later thinking. Of these the Epistle of James, 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the first Epistle of Peter are 

representatives The Johannine documents may show 

little internal variety; but the Pauline are marked by certain 
indications of change or development, and the Synoptic Gos- 
pels when compared with one another show even more clearly 
the successive effects of reflection, experience, and possibly 
assimilation from other sources/' It is not improbable that 
when the sayings and doings of Jesus were no more than a 
floating mass of popular traditions they should be modified 
unconsciously or deliberately to suit local and contemporary 
needs in order to win the allegiance of Jews and Gentiles 
alike, and be reared on the popular philosophies and expecta- 
tions about a Messianic intermediary among the Jews and a 
saviour-god among the Gentiles. 11 Divine Trinities also were 
not unknown in neighbouring religions nor even the Mother 
and the Child. 12 In due time these ideas too found room in 
the New Testament the former first inserted probably in 2 
(Jor. xiii. 14 and then interpolated in Mat. xxviii. 19. 13 

The great advantage that the New Testament possesses 
over all other scriptures is that its canon was fixed after con- 
tact with contemporary religious and philosophical specula- 
tions had enabled it to incorporate the elements necessary to 
satisfy not only local conditions but also thinking minds of a 
certain type. We may perhaps go further and assert that a 
change in the conception of Jesus Christ took place 
as the appeal of his life and teachings was extended 
from the Jews to the Gentiles. Although most of the anti- 
Gentilic passages have disappeared from the New Testament 
now, a few unhappy expressions serve as rude reminders that 

u Even the Sermon on the Mount is supposed to have been edited by Luke 
(as contrasted with Matthew) to attract the Gontiles.See Die. lit., Ext. Vol., 


12 Jameson, The Legend of the Madonna, p. xxn. 

13 Die. Bi., II, p. 213, art. GOD; but sec Ext. Vol., p. 308, art. TRINITY 


possibly the original message was primarily, if not exclusive- 
ly, designed to suit the ears of a Jewish audience. 14 There 
is evidence to show that originally conversion was limited to 
the Jews and their proselytes, and that circumcision- and keep- 
ing of the Law of Moses were demanded of all converts. To 
St. Paul must belong the credit not only of admitting into the 
fold Gentiles, like the Eoman Cornelius, who had not passed 
through the Synagogue, but also of dispensing with the neces- 
sity of circumcision, as in the case of the Greek Titus. The 
Judaizers, however, opposed him all along and put him on 
his mettle to defend his actions in spirited epistles; 15 but even 
Paul believed that " only Christians who were Jews by birth 
were the good olive tree, while the Gentile Christians were 
only grafts from the wild- olive tree," and he taught that the 
Jewish Christians should continue to observe the Law of 
Aloses even though it had been abolished by the new covenant 
with God, established through the atoning death of Christ on 
toe Cross. 16 The Ebionites, who denied the divinity of 
Christ and rejected St. Paul as an apostate, and the Nazarenes 
who made a distinction between Jewish and Gentile Chris- 
tians in so far as the observance of the whole Mosaic Law was 
concerned, may be regarded as representing the Jewish view 
of Christ. 17 We may very well believe that the importance 

Dhirendranath Chowdhury in his In Search of Jesus Christ (p. 4) goes BO far 
as to assert that " the contributions of the Krishna cum Buddha cults to the evolu- 
tion of Christianity from long before the Christian era cannot now be reasonably 
challenged." See m this connection Itoyce, op. cit.,' p. 332 f; Slreeter, The 
Buddha and the Christ, Lect. 2. 

H In John 17.9 Christ even says : "I pray not for the world, but for those 
whom tliou hast given me." See, however, Moffatt, op. eft., p. 33 f. He admits 
however that " the mission to the Greeks at Antioch was critical " and -that 
41 these innovators were not led by any apostle, nor, so far as we know* did they 
possess any explicit word of Jesus which warranted them in undertaking such a. 
revolutionary campaign " (p. 100). Sec Arthur Levett, A Martian examines 
Christianity, p. 54. 

15 See EBB. vii. 609 f, art. JUDAIZING; also Streeter, Prim. Ch., pp. 36-38; 
p. 44 f , p. 56. 

16 for the use of the term ' covenant ' in the Last Supper instead of the 
usual word ' kingdom ' by Christ, see Moffatt, op. cit., pp. 22-3; also p. 36; for later 
interpretation, p. 61 f. For the development of the term ' New Testament, 1 sea 
Ibid, p. 54 f. 

17 Bethune-Baker, Early History of Christian Doctrine, p. 62 f . See Also B. H. 
Streeter, The Primitive Church, p. 8. 


and influence of Marcion among the Gentiles, on the other 
hand, lay in the fact that he absolutely rejected Judaism and 
all historical beginnings of Christianity; accepted St. Paul 
as the true Apostle in so far as he opposed the Jewish Law ; 
and preached that, as compared with the good God that Christ 
revealed, the just God of the Jews " was the author of evil 
works, bloodthirsty, changeable far from perfect, and 
ignorant of the highest things, concerned with his own 
peculiar people only, and keeping them in subjection by means 
of the Law and the terror of breaking it." 18 These conflicts 
of views show that the nature and message of Christ were not 
understood in a uniform sense by the primitive Church and 
that, as among the followers of Socrates, there was room for 
genuine differences of opinion. We may presume that the 
Synoptic Gospels, which were supposed to give an account of 
Christ's life, ministry and utterances, underwent the greatest 
amount of retouching at the hands of the finally victorious 
party just as the Old Testament had undergone revision at the 
hands of the Deuteronomists r-nd the author* of the Priestly 
Code, and that necessary omissions and interpolations 
were effected to present as coherent a canon as was possible 
in the circumstances. Thus, even if Jesus be an histori- 
cal personage, it would be risky to affirm that the New Testa- 
ment gives a verbatim report of all his speeches. 19 This re- 
mark applies even to the Sermon on the Mount, for scholars 
are not agreed as to whether Matthew or Luke gives a more 
accurate description of what Jesus actually said on the occa- 
sion or even whether Jesus delivered the Sermon at all. 30 

U Beihune -Baker, op. ctfc., p. 82. 

w See Moffatt, op. ctt., p. 151, in this connection. 

20 See art. SERMON ON THE MOUNT in Die. Bi. t Ext. Vol., p. If: 
also Arthur Levelt, A Martian examines Christianity, pp. 47, 74. 

These (the first three) Gospels are not, it is true, historical works any 
more than the fourth; they were not written with the simple object of giving the 
facts as they were; they are books composed for the work of vangelisation. Their 
purpose is to awaken a belief in Jesus Christ's person and mission; and the 
purpose is served by the description of Ins deeds and discourees, as well as by 
the references to the Old Testament. Harnack, What is Christianity?, p. 21. 

The conviction that Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus' history 
had a disturbing affect on tradition. ~-/6tV/., p. 241. For a defence of consulting 


In fact, the New Testament teachings may very well be re- 
garded as summaries of current ethical maxims and of moral 
principles originally embedded in larger discourses of Jesus 
or scattered among his different sermons. There is an 
obvious advantage in this procedure, for it reduces the size 
of a scripture and enables the hearer to remember more easily 
the broad principles of spiritual life and of ethical conduct. 
We may point, as an illustration, to the analogous case ot 
the Bhagavadglta : its popularity too depends upon the fact 
that it summarises the spiritual teachings of the earlier 
Brahmaiiical sacred books and is, like the New Testament, put 
forward as the message of a single teacher. 21 It is also probable 
that what has been regarded as a gradual consciousness of his 
own mission by Jesus is really a development in the conception 
of his nature and mission in the minds of his followers, \\lio 
expected him originally to function as a temporal saviour 22 and 
only after his crucifixion began to appreciate and expound the 
spiritual significance of the Messianic kingdom. 

It is necessary to make these remarks because the 
Christian conception of God is inextricably bound up 
with a proper understanding of the nature of Christ 
and because the heretical systems were mostly anathe- 
matised on their Christology. 23 It is not unlikely that 
the first Christians realised the importance of adhering 
to the rabbinical speculations about divine manifesta- 
tions which would simultaneously ensure -the uniqueness of 
Christ as a prophet and a messiah in one** and satisfy the 

the 0. T. prophecies in elucidation of the facts of Christ's life and ministry, see 
Moffatt, op. ctt., pp. 85 f, 166. 

n W. D. Mackenzie points out (EBB. vii. 608) that parallels to many of 
the features of Christ's teaching can be found in many quarters. " But in the 
teaching of Jesus they acquire unique significance for three facts: first, from 
their being unified in the thought of one mind, as they are nowhere else; second, 
from the exclusion of any alloy of formalism, worldlinoss, superstition 'or mere 
ceremonialism; third, from the fact that they evidently express, and find their 
unity and power in, His own religious experience and moral character." 

W Mat. 20.21. 

The Gospel, as Jesus proclaimed it, has to do with the Father only and not 
with the Son. Harnack, What IB Christianity?, p. 147 (see also p. 160). 

a* See Harnack, What w Christianity?, p. 184, 186 f. 


Gentile craving for a plurality in godhead and a saviour god. 
As a matter of fact, the Cappadocian theology commended its 
speculations to the thought of the time by an attempt to show 
that " the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was the mean 
between Judaism on the one hand and Hellenism on the 
other (Basil and Gregory of Nyssa)." 25 So the process of 
liypostasis was pushed farther than in Jewish writings of the 
pre-Christian era and in Platonic speculations, and Christ 
was transmuted into the centra] figure of a cosmic 
drama, the opening scene of which was laid in the 
Garden of Eden, where the first parents of man disobeyed the 
divine injunction through the machinations of Satan, and the 
last scene in heaven, where the risen Christ sat at the right 
hand of God, judging individuals by the degree of their ac- 
ceptance of the message of salvation preached by him 
during his incarnation as Jesus. A heavenly pre-cxistence 26 
for him could be easily defended even on Jewish presupposi- 
tions ; but there was apparently a difference of opinicti as 
to whether that pro-existence was divine or human even St. 
Paul refers to him in a solitary passage (I Cor. xv. 47) as 
the second man from heaven 27 although his general position is 
that Christ was the ' Son of God ' and truly divine. The 
books of Isaiah and Daniel, on which much of the original 
Christology was based, told respectively of the Servant of 
the Lord 28 and the Divine Ruler and Judge : 29 possibly these 
two traditions were combined to form the picture of the 
suffering Christ, the Son of Man, and the risen Lord, the Son 
of God. Christ sought out the sinner to redeem him just as 
God had sent down Christ to redeem the sinful human race : 
so far then as spontaneous grace was concerned Christ could 
very well say that he who had seen him had seen the Father. 

25EHE. iii. 214. 

6 Cf. John 8.68 : Before Abraham was, I am. See Pringlc-Pattison, 
Studies in the Philosophy of Religion, p. 191 f (Christology of the original dis- 
ciples was one of apotheosis, that of St. Paul one of incarnation). 

27 The first man is Adam. For a discussion of this passage, &eo Orr, The 
Christian View of God and the World, p. 220 f. 

Is. 42. If; also 9.6,7. 

Dan. 7.13, i'4. 


Possibly, there was one other motive involved in the deifica- 
tion of Christ. To a Jew religious law could come only from 
God, and by religious law a Jew understood not only rules of 
spiritual and moral life but also socio-religious prescriptions 
and ceremonial observances. Christ professed to teach the 
Jews the god of their own ancestors the God of Abraham, 
fcaac and Jacob ; but unless he were God Himself, he could 
not possibly abrogate or modify existing religious practices 
and teach a new method of worshipping Him. 30 The only 
logical conclusion of this position is that there could be no 
essential distinction between God and Christ and that I he 
historical Jesus was in fact the incarnation of the eternal 
Christ who was consubstantial with God Himself. Those 
who preached docetic doctrines and those who regarded Christ 
as merely human were equally guilty of heresy, 31 for only the 
real God could preach a new message of salvation. It wa,s a 
most vital question with the Church whether Christ was of 
the same substance with God or only of similar substance 
with Him and whether he had one nature and will or two 
natures and wills, human and divine, and if the latter, how 
the two were related and also whether the humanity was 
brought from heaven or assumed on earth. The final position 
that the primitive Church assumed is best summarised in the 
words of Marti neau* who points out that the term * Son of 

30 This explains the similarities between Mosaic revelation and the mes- 
sage of Christ. The Sermon on the Mount was modelled on the revelation at 
Sinai; the forty days' fast on forty days 1 journey through the wilderness; the 
gift of tongues of his disciples on law-giving in seventy languages at Sinai (a 
rabbinical tradition). 

31 See Religious Foundations, p. 16; ERE. iv. 832. 

**The Seat of Authority in Religion, pp. 428-9, quoted in Orr, op. cit., 
p. 210. 

Martineau summarises the views of the Unitarian Church, to which ha 
belongs, in the following words : " As objective reality, as a faithful representa- 
tion of our invisible and ideal universe, it (the Messianic theology) is gone from 
us, gone, therefore, from our interior religion, and become an outside mythology. 
From the Person of Jesus, for instance, everything official, attached to Him by 
evangelists or divines, has fallen away; when they put such false robes on Him, 
they were, but leading Him to death. The pomp of royal lineage and fulfilled 
prediction, tho prerogative of King, of Priest, of Judge, tho advent with retinue 
of angels on the clouds of heaven, are to us mere deforming investitures, mis- 
placed, like court dresses, on the ' spirits of the just,' and He is simply the Divine 


God/ applied to the Word of the Fourth Gospel, can be un- 
derstood only in one way. Says he, " The oneness with 
God which it means to mark is not such resembling reflex of 
the Divine thought and character as men or angels may 
attain, but identity of essence, constituting Him not God- 
like alone, but God. Others may be children of God in a 
moral sense; but by this right of elemental nature, none but 
He; He is, herein, the only son; so little separate, BO close to 
the inner Divine life which He expresses, that He is in the 
bosom of the Father. This language undoubtedly describes 
a great deal more than such harmony of will and sympathy 
of affection as may subsist between finite obedience and its 
infinite Inspirer; it denotes two natures homogeneous, entire- 
ly one ; and both so essentml to the Godhead that noithor can 

be omitted from any truth you speak of it Tt was one and 

the same Logos that in the beginning was with God, who in 
due time appeared in human form, and showed forth the 
Father's pure perfections in relation to mankind, who then 
returned to His eternal life, with the spiritual ties unbroken 
which He brought from His finished work." To such a God- 
inan the ordinary methods of birth and death arc an impos- 
sibility so Immaculate Conception 33 and Bodily Resurrection 
arc logical corollaries of the manifestation of this Divine 
Being. So also " the whole apostolic conception of Jesus as 

Flower of humanity, blossoming after ages of spiritual growth the realised 

possibility of life in God All that has been added to that real historical 

scene, the angels that hang around His birth, and the fiend that tempts His 
youth; the dignities that await His future, the throne, the trumpet, the as- 
size, the bar f judgment; with all the apocalyptic splendours and terrors that en- 
sue, Hades and the Crystal Sea, Paradise and the Infernal Gulf, nay, the very 
boundary walls of tho Kosmic panorama that contains these things, have for us 
utterly melted away, end left us amid the infinite spare and the silent stars. )f 
(Loss and Gain in Recent Theology, pp. 14, 15, quoted in Orr, op. cit., pp. 302-3.) 

See the paper on The Unitarians by H. W. Crosskey iu The Religions Systems 
of the World, pp. 602-19, for a summary of Unitarian beliefs. 

33 The apocryphal Protevangclium of James gave an account of the mira- 
culous birth and espousal of Virgin Mary which ultimately led to her adoration 
a the Queen of Heaven. See Christianity etc., p. 330 See also A. Levett, 
op. cit., p. 80 f, for other virgin births. 

For an historical account of the worship of Virgin Mary as the Mother of 
God (Theotokos), sco Jameson, The Legend of the Madonna, p. xxi; G. 0. Coulton, 
Five Centimes of Religion, Vol. I, Chs. IX and X (also Appendix 19). 



Eisen Saviour and Lord was utterly inconsistent with any 
thought of His own guilt and need of pardon or redemption;' '* 
hence Christ was regarded as absolutely sinless. 

But speculation did not stop with ascribing to Christ a 
heavenly pre-existence and a bodily ascension, nor did the 
Messianic function remain limited to providing a willing sacri- 
fice for the atonement of man's sins and a heavenly inter- 
cessor at the bar of Divine judgment. 35 In the last two or 
three centuries before the Christian era a fairly big litera- 
ture, mostly collected now under apocryphal and apocalyptic 
writings, had grown up, voicing forth Israel's faith in a 
heavenly ' Son of God ' or ' Son of Man ' and in a Messiah 
who would bring back its past glory and rule over the whole 
earth. 36 To the Son of God was assigned the right of final 
judgment ; and with the Messiah was also to return 
the Holy Spirit to inspire again the prophets of Israel. 
The other intermediaries like the Wisdom, the Angnl 
and the Word were identified with and ultimately set aside 
in favour of a supreme Mediator who is the ' first-born ' 
of God and even ' Christ the Lord ; ' they were also 
often identified with the Holy Spirit and He is des- 
cribed as coming with ' Christ the Lord ' who appears in 
Avisdom of the spirit and righteousness and power. 37 There 
was a marked tendency towards hypostatising these beings, 
and thus the uncompromising monotheism of the Jews was 

34 EKE. vii. 509. 

35 Mat. 10.32-3. 

Contrasting Christ with the Levitical high priest, the writer of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews declares that " no defilement unfitted Christ for Hit 
sacred ministry. As a Son, he was perfected for evermore, and had no need 
either to offer for His own sins or to repeat His sacrifice made once for All wben 
He offered up Himself. B. F. Westcott shows that the fulfilment of the Levitical 
type by Christ takes three forms : (1) He intercedes for men as their present re- 
presentative before Qod (He. 7.25 f; 0.24); (2) H brings man's prayers to God 
(He. 13.15); (3) He secures access for man to Qod (He. 4.16; 10.19 fl." ERE. 
vii. 184, art. TNTEECESSION. 

3 See Die. Bi., Ext. Vol., p. 308 f for references. 

Wernle thinks that " the choice by Jesus of the throe titles, Messiah, Son 
of God, and Son of Man, ' from the first turned out to be the misfortune of the 
new religion '." (ERE. vii. 607.) See Moffatt, op. oft., p. 164. 

V Die. Bi., Ext. Vol., p. 308; also Orr, op. cit. t p. 264. 


moving towards " a doctrine of distinctions interior to the 
Divine essence;" and, in the development of the doctrine, 
the plural form ' Elohim f and Yahwch's consulting the 
angels or a heavenly family were utilised to relieve the 
blank monadism of the divine nature. It appears, therefore, 
that most of the elements that went to form the basis of the 
Christian doctrine of Messiah (and of Trinity) were in the 
air, 38 and what we get in the New Testament is a more or 
less organised picture of these ideas with the conception of 
the Messiah assuming human existence of the Word be- 
coming flesh superadded. For this last the prophetic pas- 
sages about a virgin (interpreted to mean not a young woman 
married for the first time but a woman who has known 110 
man) being with a child and the suffering servant of the 
Lord 39 were found extremely useful. In due time Christ was 
conceived as existing from all eternity with God, as respon- 
sible for the creation of all things, as revealing the nature 
of God by his love, his sinless conscience and his redemptive 
act of sacrifice on the Cross, as acting both as intercessor and 
judge on the Day of Judgment and as returning in glory and 
establishing for ever the kingdom of God. The Nicene Creed 
is a fair summary of the final claims put forward on behalf of 
Jesus : " one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of 
the Father, only-begotten, that is of the substance of the 
Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, 
begotten, not made, of one substance -with the Father, by 
whom all things were made, both those in heaven and those 

on earth : who for us men and for our salvation came down 

SB " Such terms as Redemption, Baptism, Grace, Faith, Salvation, Re- 
generation, Son of Man, Son of God, Kingdom of Heaven, were not, as we are apt 
tc think, invented by Christianity, but were household words of Talmudical 
Judaism. No less loud and bitter in the Talmud are the protests against lip- 
serving, against making the law a burden to the people, against ' laws that 
hang on hairs,' against Priests and Pharisees. That grand dictum, ' Do unto 
others as thou wouldst be done by,' is quoted by Hillel, at whose death Jesus 
was ten years of age, not as anything new, but as an old and well-known dic- 
lum, that comprised the whole Law." Emanuel Deutsch, quoted by Beltany in 
Judaism and Christianity (1892), pp. 101-2. 

3Bettany, op. cit., pp. 82-3; also p. 61, n.l for the Messianic foreshadow- 
ings in the Psalms. See also Moffatt, op. cit., p. 24, 94. See Levett, op. eft., p. *" 


and was made flesh, and lived as Man among men, suffered, 
and rose the third day, ascended into heaven and is coming 
to judge the quick and the dead." When deification had 
proceeded so far it was difficult to keep God and Christ en- 
tirely distinct and the monotheistic motive, which was never 
abandoned seriously, could only lead to the assimilation of 
Christ to God. So Christ claims to be one with his Father 40 
and preaches that he who has seen him has seen the Father 
and that he is in the Father and the Father is in him; and, 
" while citing Old Testament Messianic sayings, He sets 
Himself in the place of Jahweh e.g., Mt 11 < f =Is 35 3 61 1 , 
Lk4 17 = IsGl Jf , Lk7 27 = Mal 8V We are back, in other 
words, to that familiar mode of thinking in which the npo- 
theosis of the prophet plays an important part, only that the 
process is here covered up by the assumption that he had a 
heavenly pre-existence and that he only descended on earth 
to perform a redemptive act of grace. The position is thus 
intermediate between a full-fledged incarnation of the deity, 
such as we met with in Hinduism, and a deification of the 
prophet, as was done by Buddhism. 

It may very well be asked if the original picture of Jesus 
is not that of a teacher after the manner of the old Jewish 
prophets and if the Synoptic Gospels do not represent a tran- 
sition to the aspect of Divinity. 41 Thus Soott remarks/ 2 
"It is of great significance that of the two earliest attempts 
to collect what was remembered about Jesus, one (Q) appears 
to have recorded one miracle only (if that), otherwise (apart 
from the narrative of the Passion, if that were included), it JH 
wholly occupied with the discourses of Jesus." The Didache, 
in its two titles ' Teaching of the Twelve Apostles ' and 

4 As against John 10.30 (I and my Father are one) we have John 14.28 
(My Father is greater than I). In the icnth chapter we have within nine verses 
(30-38) three slightly different wordings : ' I and my Father are one,* ' I am 
the Son of Gkxl,' and ' The Father in in me and I in Him.' This last is repeated 
in the fourteenth chapter (10,11) although the first is implied also (7). 

See Streetcr and others, Foundations, III. The Historic Christ (esp. 
p. 80 f). 

** Christianity etc., p. 346. 


'Teaching of the Lord through the Twelve Apostles to the 
Gentiles/ also limits itself mostly to an exposition of the 
essentials of Christ's message and the method of government 
of the incipient Church, and there the itinerant prophets and 
teachers take precedence over the local bishops and deacons. 43 
Christianity is here expressed in forms determined by 
Judaism; 44 but as Christianity begins to develop on Greek and 
Roman soil, "the ministry of the Word is thrust into the 
background and the Sacraments usurp the primary place," 45 
and very likely an alteration in the conception of the nature of 
Christ in the meantime was responsible for this change. 46 Scott 
remarks, 47 " The Christology of the Synoptic Gospels com- 
prises two distinguishable elements. There is the record of 
what may be called the spontaneous revelation of the charac- 
ter and nature of Jesus, culminating in certain glimpses of 
His own consciousness regarding Himself j 48 and there i* the 
evidence, partly direct and partly indirect, as to the interpre- 
tation which was put upon all they knew concerning Him by 
those who formed the inner circle of His disciples. What 
these Gospels thus provided is not a Christology so much as 
some of the materials for a Christology, together with certain 
incipient Conns into which these incomplete materials 
provisionally crystallised." Do we owe this transformation 
of a prophetic Jesus into a divine Jesus to St. Peter, arid were 
the keys of the kingdom of heaven a reward for thus elevating 
Jesus to the rank of God? " Now when Jesus came into the 
parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, 
Who do men say that the Son of man is? And they said, 
Some say John the Baptist ; some, Elijah : and others, 

43Stroeter and others, Foundations, p. 388; Moffatt, op. cit., p. 106; BCC 
Strccter, Primitive Church, pp. 77 f, 145, and 149 f. 

44 Die. Bi., Ext. Vol., p. 448, art. DIDACHE. 

45 Foundations, p. 888; Moffatt, op. cit., pp. 45-6. 

4 Harnack speaks of Jesus in the following terms : " This feeling, pray- 
ing, working, struggling and suffering individual is a man who in the face of hit 
God also associates himself with other men." fPAat Christianity? , pp. 129-90. 

47 Christianity etc., p. 346. 

48 For a discussion of the self -consciousness of Jesus, see Orr, op. cit., Lect. 
VI. Appendix (p. 248 f) ; also ERE. vii. 508 f; Moffatt, op. cit., p. 159 f. 


Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But 
who say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, 
Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus 
answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar- 
Jonah : for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, 
but my Father which is in heaven. And I also say unto thee, 
that tliou art Peter, and upon this rock 49 I will build my 
church ; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 
I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven ; and 
whatsoever thou 50 shalt bind on earth shall be bound in 
heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be 
loosed in heaven. Then charged he the disciples that they 
should tell no man that he was the Christ." 61 To quote 
Dummelow, 62 " The other apostles had by this time attained 
to the conviction that Jesus was the Messiah, but only Peter 
had made the great venture of faith which is implied in the 
acknowledgment of the divinity of Christ." Thus the Christ 
who is made to say in the right Jewish fashion, " Why 
callest thou me good? none is good, save one, even God," 53 
ultimately assumes all the titles of God and receives the 
homage of mankind as the Saviour and the Lord. 54 And Le 
who had said, " I came not to judge the world, but to save 

The Eoman Catholic Launoy reckons that seventeen Fathers regard 
Peter as the. rock; forty-four regard Peter's confession as the rock; while eight 
are of opinion that the Church is built on all the Apostles. Dummelow, op. tit., 
p. 681. 

"But see John 20.22 23; Mat. 18.18-20. See Streeter, Prim. Ch. t p. 60. 

51 Mat. 16.18-20. Mark 8.27-9 and Luke 9.18-20 simply refer to Peter's 
confession without the promises of Jesus. For an instructive discussion of the 
episode, see Dummelow, op. tit., p. 681. 

63 Dummelow, op. cit., p. 681. 

M Mark 10.18; Luke 18.19. 

It is interesting to note that Matthew who records Peter's confession about 
the divinity of Christ omits (19.17) to mention God specifically in connection with 
the episode. See Pringle-Pattison, Studies in Ph. of Rel. t p. 164 f. 

"See Religious Foundations, pp. 21-2. 

For a list of passages embodying Jesus' claims, see Basanta Goomar Bose, 
Christianity, p. 66 f. Moffatt points out, among other things, that the rise of the 
term " Lord " as applied to Jesus is by no means so obvious and plain as some 
text-books suggest (op. cit., p. 208). 


the world/' 55 was raised to the position of one who would 
judge the quick and the dead. 56 

We reach now a point where the Jewish conception of 
a transcendent God is counteracted by the Christian belief in 
a God who walked on earth and exercised all divine functions. 
Miracles are performed to signalise his entry into earthly 
existence; water turns into wine, fishes get into nets and 
loaves and fishes are multiplied at his wish; 57 the diseased are 
healed, the blind receive their sight, the dumb speak, the 
paralytic walk, and even the dead arc raised ; the sea fails to 
drown him and the winds and waves are rebuked by him into 
silence; evil spirits leave their victims and even fig trees 
wither at his word of command, 58 and finally he ascends 
bodily to heaven after he had been in the grave for three days. w 
The assimilation to God proceeds further. The prophets 
of old, and even John the Baptist, had called the people to 
repentance; but Christ assumed the right to forgive the sin- 
ner, which the Jews had reserved for God alone. With the 
assumption of this Divine right all resemblance to ordinary 
mortals in respect of relation to God the Father naturally 
ceased. If the Sermon on the Mount represents 

55 John 13 17; 1 John 2.1. 

*2 Tiin. 4.1. 

57 For rabbinical and oilier parallels of these feats, nee MoiTatt, op. cit., 
pp. 128-33. 

M W. H. Pinnock, An Analysis of New Testament History (1878), pp. 920-1; 
Religious Foundations, p. 17; also Harnack, op. cit., pp. 29-30. 

* For any one who reflects, there can bo little doubt the appearances which 
convinced the original disciples of their Master's continued life and activity were, 
in point of fact, visions of the same nature as St. Paul records in his own case. 
Pringle-Pattison, Studies in Ph. of Rel., p. 182. 

This series of visions lasted for some time (" forty days " is, of course, a 
round symbolical number), and the affairs of the divine kingdom are probably 
the interests and prospects of the new messianic era, as we see from the context 
(Acts i. 2-3). But later tradition seized upon this tale for its own purposes. The 
forty days were extended to eighteen months and even twolve years in order to 
allow time for the communication of a vast esoteric doctrine to the apostles. 
Moffatt, op. eft., p. 100. It is interesting to note that Mahayftna Buddhism also 
claims to derive its origin from similar esoteric teachings of the Master not to be 
found in the Hlnayana texts. See E. J. Thomas, The History of Buddhistic 
Thought, Ch. XIV; also Winternitz, A History of Indian Literature, Vol. II, 
p. 229. 


anything like the original position of Jesus, 60 we 
can understand why there alone the expression ' Our 
Father ' should find a place in the Lord's Prayer. 61 
Once Christ was raised to the divine plane, his Father 
and the Father of the Apostles or of the people at large 
could not be conceived in identical terms; the unique rela- 
tionship of Christ to God, on account of which God reveals 
Himself completely to and through him, 62 was distinguished 
both from the relationship of the believers and disciples to 
God and from the sonship of the rest of mankind, including 
11 the unthankful and the evil," to Him. While it was not 
denied that the individual soul could enter into direct com- 
munion with God, it was affirmed at the same time that it 
could do so only " as a member of the kingdom of His Son." 63 
No wonder, therefore, that St. Paul's exhortation to pray for 
those who were outside the Christian fold, so that they might 
11 come to the knowledge of the truth " (E Tim. 2.1-4), should 
he practically ignored and that neither in Justin Martyr 
(circa 150 A.I).) nor in the Didache should bo found any 
trace of liturgical intercession for any one outside the 

W The Sermon seems to have been delivered almost immediately after the 
appointment of the Twelve Apostles. The Gospel of Matthew agrees with that 
of Luko in locating the Sermon on the Mount in the first half of Jesus' minis- 
try in Galilee, although Matthew places it somewhat nearer to the beginning of 

that period But on any chronological hypothesis the discourse stands about 

halt-way between the beginning of Jesus' public work and His crucifixion. Die 
Bi. t Ext. Vol., pp. 2-3, art. SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (But see Note 20 

U T. von Haoring finds in the URC of the words ' Our ' and ' us ' in the 
Lord's Prayer a justification for belief in intercession (EKE. vii. 888). But a 
more natural explanation is that the prayer was meant to be used in a congrega- 
tion of the faithful and perhaps recited in a chorus where the plural form would 
be the most natural. 

tt All things have been delivered unto mo of my Father : and no one 
knoweth the Son save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the 
Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him. Mat. 11.27. 

(This passage does not match very well with the one preceding where God 
is addressed by Jesus.) Bee also John 8.18 : He that believeth on him i not 
judged : he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not be- 
lieved on the name of the only begotten Son of God. See Die. fit* II, p. 209, art. 

0rr, op. cit., p. 79. 


Church, 64 thus establishing once more the triumph of the spirit 
of Jewish exclusiveness from which primitive Christianity 
does not seem to have completely extricated itself. 66 

There were, however, two elements in the Christian con- 
ception of God which were bound to give it an advantage over 
Judaism. The Jews had indeed attempted to develop the 
conception of the immanence of God in a number of ways, 
but except in the conception of the Holy Spirit, which peren- 
nially inspired men ethically and spiritually, they had not 
succeeded in establishing the indwelling of the deity in the 
world. Christianity did not indeed abandon altogether the 
casual manifestation (theophany) of a transcendent God 
through such visible symbols as a dove 66 or a tongue of fire; 
but in preaching that the Divine Messiah had come down to 
dwell among men as Man, it definitely raised the dignity of 
human life and provided for men's participation in divine life 
through Jesus Christ the God-man. 67 It did something more 
The Old Testament had not speculated very much about the 
motive of Divine manifestation, although it had a general 
theory that God manifested Himself whenever the needs of 
righteousness demanded it and also when some good to Israel 
was intended by Him. That God incarnated Himself through 
Jesus to redeem the sinner; that what punishment He in His 
justice was obliged to inflict on man He wished to take away 
in His mercy through the sacrifice of Jesus so that men might 
not have to pay the wages of sin, which is death, but might 
enjoy eternal life ; 68 that God did not wait for the disappear- 
ance of sin through human effort before ushering in His 

MERE. vii. 886, art. INTERCESSION (Liturgical). 

The New Testament basis for this would be John 17.9: I pray not for 
tho world, but for them whom thou hast given me; for they are thine. 

M Canon Lindsay Dewar suggests that the true meaning of tho dove-symbol 
i * to be found in the fact that the Hebrew word for dove f is Jonah and that 
Jonah who lived for three days in the whale's belly was a sign of Christ him- 
self who was to be in the grave for a similar period. See Imagination and Reli- 
gion, p. 68. 

See J. Caird, The Fundamental Ideas of Christianity, IT, p. 104 (also 114). 

This statement does not exhaust the entire theory of Christian atone- 
ment. W. Adams Brown in ERE. v. 660 thus summarises the matter : " Whether 
we consider the Atonement from the point of view of its nature, its object, its 



Kingdom on earth the belief in these gracious acts of Ood 
marked* a definite advance upon the Jewish prayer for 'the for- 
giveness of sins and the Jewish belief that the removal of sin 
was a jpre-condition of the advent of the Divine Kingdom. 
The institution of the Day of Atonement, 69 when the Jewish 
nation as a whole confessed its sins before Yahweh through 
the High Priest, " ever held before the people's eyes the 
mysterious connection of forgiving love with awful justice;" 
but that Yahweh would himself condescend to provide a 
better atonement than goats and bulls out of His love for the 
world and thus -hasten the advent of His own kingdom on 
.earth the Jews did not think it possible. To the repentant 
sinner and to those who doubted the possibility of winning 
Yahwdh's salvation through individual effort the call of 
Christ " Gome unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy 
laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. and 
learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall 

necessity, or the means by which it is made practically effective in men's lives, 
we find differences of .views so striking as to make any attempt at harmony seem 
hopeless. The atoning character of Christ's death is now found in its penal 
quality as suffering, now in its ethical character as obedience. It is represented 
now as a ransom to redeem men from Satan, now as a satisfaction due to the 
hopour of God, now as a penalty demanded by His justice. Its necessity is 
grounded now in the nature of things, and, again, is explained as the result of an 
arrangement due to God's own good pleasure or answering His sense of fitness. 
The means by which its benefits are mediated to men are sometimes mystically 
conceived, as in the Greek theology of the Sacrament, sometimes legally, as in the 
Protestant formula of imputation; and still, again, morally and spiritually, as in 
the more personal theories of recent Protestantism." (For Imputation, see ERE. 
vii. 180). 

He notices five types of interpretation of Christ's death (EBB. v. 641 f) : 
a) That it is a fulfilment of OT prophecy (Act 3.18) ; (2) that it is the establish- 
ment of a new covenant between God and his disciples through the sacrifice of 
his own life-blood (Mat. 26.28; Heb.9.11-28); (8) that it is a ransom paid to 
deliver men from sin (Mark 10.45; 1 Cor. 6.20; 7.28; I Pet. 1.18 f; Tit. 2.14; 
Eph. 1.14); (4) that it is the expiation demanded by Divine justice for the 
wilful sin of humanity with which Christ identifies himself and for which he 
becomes a substitute (of which the OT originals are 1 Kings 2.81; 2 Sam. 24; 
1 Chr.21; Isa. 63); (5) that it is "a part of the entire process bf the Divine 
self -identification with humanity" which enables men to partake of his life and 
share in his triumph over death. See in this connection Royce, op. eft., p. 271 f; 
B. J. Campbell, The New Theology, Chs. viii-x; Caird, The Fundamental Ideas 
of .Christianity, Vol. H, Lects.xvi-xvii. 
op. ait., p. ai| t 


find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my hut- 
den is light." must have sounded extremely inviting. And 
the message that he taught " God so loved the world, that 
he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on 
him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent 
not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the 
world 'should be saved through him." must have revealed a 
new aspect of God's love, namely, that He not only feels for 
the sinner but takes active steps to save him by sending a 
redeemer. 70 

The fatherhood of God now takes on a new significance. 
Like a loving father, ever ready to welcome back the prodigal 
son, God is only waiting for sinners to confess their guilt and 
accept His message of redemption preached through Christ in 
order to make them inheritors of an eternal life. Through 
faith, obedience, prayer and right living man can always win 
back the affection of God, for God is Love 71 and He ever res- 
ponds to human appeal of love and overlooks the past faults 
of a repentant heart. There is to be no compromise, how- 
ever, with unrighteousness; and no amount of formal obser- 
vance of the Mosaic Law and the Temple Sacrifice or even of 
Synagogue Prayer would avail a man unless he purifies his 
heart and extends to his fellow-men the same charity as 
he expects of God and shows the same indulgence towards the 
latter 's failings which he hopes God to show to his own. 72 
By using the epithet ' Father ' in preference to other epithets 
of God, Jesus brought home to the mind of the people the 
aspect of His lovingkindness which Jeremiah had taught be- 
fore and the relative unimportance of the ceremonial method 
of approach which was inseparable from the idea of Yahweh 
as King in Jewish minds. We may not subscribe to the 

70Kom. 5.8. flee Dio. JB., II, p. 211: The absolution of the sinner is no 
act of momentary indulgence, but a deliberately contemplated incident in a vast 
and far-reaching plan which has for its object the restoration of the human race. 

71 1 John 4.8, 16. 

72 if a man say, I love God, and hatoth hi* brother, he is- a liar : for he 
that loveth not his brother whom h* hath seen, cannot love God 1 whom he 
hath not seen. (1 John 4.20.) See Mai?. 6.21-22, 44-7; 6H2, 14.6? 


trinitarian view that God the Father is inconceivable without 
an eternal God the Son towards whom possibly His eternal 
love is directed, 73 just as we may oppose the Vaisnava idea 
that an eternal Eadha is necessary for the eternal love of 
Krsna. But it is no small confidence that a sinner acquires 
if he be convinced that justice is going to be tempered by 
mercy and that the Divine Judge is also the Father in heaven 
who would stretch forth His arms to receive him as soon as 
proper atonement has been made : ' ' perfect love casteth 
out fear " and " he that feareth is not made perfect in love." 74 
And the corollary from this belief is of great importance to 
society. If God is love, His entire creation must -be knit to- 
gether by the silken cords of mutual goodwill and affection 
and all disagreement and dispute are out of place in His 
realm : there must be peace on earth and goodwill towards 
men if the glory of God is to shine here below. And by 
goodwill is to be understood not a mere benevolent disposi- 
tion but an active charity towards the poor and the oppressed, 
the widow and the orphan, 75 as the prophets had preached be- 
fore, and also an active interest in the life of the sinners, 
which the prophets and the rabbis had not practised system 
matically. " Faith without works is dead." 76 

Although it is very likely that at one time there was a 
tendency to recover the lost sheep of the house of Israel alone 
and to eschew the Gentiles and the Samaritans 77 and it is only 
when the appeal to the Jews did not meet with the success 
expected that the command to teach all nations and preach re- 
pentance and remission of sins was put into the mouth of the 

w Thus Martensen in his Christian Dogmatics writes, "When then we 
teach with the Church the eternal preexistence and independence of creation not 
only of the Father but also of the Son and the Spirit, we thereby affirm that 
God, in order to be self-revealing, self-loving God, must eternally differentiate 
himself into I and Thou, and just as eternally unite himself with himself as 
the Spirit of love that proceeds from the relation of contrast. "Quoted by Ward in 
The Realm of Ends, p. 190. 

MSee 1 John 4.16-19. 

"See Mat. 25.35-40; Luke 14.12-4. 

76 James 2.26 (see the whole chapter). 

"Mat. 10.5-6; 15.24; 18.17; Mark 7.27; and many other passages (see 
Basanta Coomar Bose, Christianity, p. 55). 


resurgent Christ, 78 still Christianity should bo tested not by 
its beginnings but by its later developments. There can be 
no doubt that the message of Christ was understood and ap- 
plied in a universalistic sense by the primitive Church, 
mostly under the influence of St. Paul perhaps, and that 
' Salvation is of the Jews only ' and such other passages that 
limited missionary activity exclusively or primarily within 
the Jews were practically ignored after the first few years of 
Jesus' death. 79 To the end of his days Jesus remained a Jew 
and only asked his hearers to remember the spiritual aspect 
of their own religion while fulfilling the Law, just as Ram 
Mohan Roy at a later time asked his fellow-Hindus to follow 
the monistic tenets of their own Upanisads and Vedanta 
philosophy : ultimately, however, both became founders of 
new religions. The reason in the case of Christianity was 
that the followers of Jesus preached him, with the effect that 
the Christian religion widely diverged in course of time from 
the religion of Christ. 80 Possibly, there was no other way of 
reaching the non-Jews under the conditions of the time : the 
Gentiles could not, and possibly would not, have taken part 
in the Jewish religious service, and a saviour-god was nearer 
their own heart and conviction at that time. 81 St. Paul 
" views Christ's coming and work both as giving sonship to 
those who were only servants, and also as giving full filial 
rights to those who were children under age. But not as if 
it were the former only to Gentiles and the latter to Jews as 
such; but that it was a real gift of sonship to all, whether Jews 
or Gentiles, who were without God; and to all who were really 
seeking him, in whatever nation, though they might be very 
immature in their spiritual life, it was the bestowal of tho 
full privileges of sons of full age having free and direct access 

Bee Acts 28.23-8. 

W See Moffatt, op. cit. t p. 26. For Paul's contribution to tho doctrine of Jove, 
see Boyce, op. ctfc., p. 91 f. The passage has also been interpreted to mean that 
the Jews alone are privileged to preach the message of salvation to mankind. 

See Pringle-Pattison, Studies in the Phil, of Rel. t p. 177 f. On Paul's 
contribution to this development, see Harnack, What is Christianity ?, p. 179 f; 
on its weak points, p. 186 f. 

See Pringle-Pattison, Studies in the Phil, of KeL, p. 205 f. 


to God as their Father. ' ' 82 But this sonship has to be ac- 
quired : " every one that doeth righteousness is born of 
him " M and " Whosoever is begotten of God dbeth no 

sin." 84 

The fatherhood of God, therefore, has far-reaching 
consequences for Christian life inasmuch as it includes the 
practical recognition of the brotherhood of man, the necessity 
of righteous living as exemplified in the life of Christ, and 
the acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God who by his atoning 
death on the Cross effected a reconciliation between 
Divine justice and Divine mercy and brought salvation not to 
the Jews alone but to every one who would accept him, Inci- 
dentally, it diminished the importance of ritualistic worship 
external conformity to written and unwritten law in matters 
of prayer, sabbath-keeping, gifts to the Temple, circumcision, 
observance of the national feasts, and such other matters; it 
also emphasised the need of purifying motives, abandoning 
pride and adopting humility, confessing sins, trusting to 
Divine providence even in matters of daily maintenance, and 
practising charity to the needy. 85 Jesus did not have to 
preach a new religion so far as the Jews were concerned, for 
their own religion contained most of these injunctions : what 
he had to do was to put them in mind of what their own pro- 
phets had taught. 86 But to the non-Jews the message of a 
God whose lovingkindness encourages sinners to unless their 
guilt and to trust to His guidance must have been a novel 
idea; 87 and when this was coupled with the provision for indi- 

822)ic. Bi., II, p. 218 f art. GOB, CHILDREN OF. 

831 John 2.28. 

Ml John 3.9. In the combination of these ideas God the Father, Provi- 
dence, the position of men as God's children, the infinite value of the human 
soul the Gospel is expressed. Harnack, What is Christianity?, p. 70. 

85 See Mat. 23 in this connection ; tho picture is apparently overdrawn 
when applied to the Scribes and the Pliarisees as a class. 

86 See Foundations , p. 20 : "He preached no new theology, but grafted 
his message of fulfilment into the stock of Jewish faith in God wheresoever it 
was alive." 

87 In the so-called Zadokite document of Jewish piety, just before the 
days of Jesus, the ide.a of a new covenant, a covenant of repentance, began to 
be linked to the expectation of a messiah. Moffatt, op. ctt., p. 60. 


vidual immortality through participation in the spirit of a 
saviour-god, the appeal must have been almost irresistible. 

The over-emphasis on the Messianic concept had the 
effect of obscuring the ideas regarding the other manifesta- 
tions of Yahweh, particularly the idea of the Holy Spirit. 
The Spirit of God as the abiding witness of the presence of 
God in the human mind was conceived in Judaism as produc- 
ing, among other things, prophetic inspiration, moral purity 
and religious consecration. 88 The Apostolic Age began to 
conceive of the salvation of Jesus as meant for all men and 
for all times; and when God Himself was supposed to have 
spoken through Christ direct and not through the imperfect 
medium <of a human prophet, naturally the need of further 
prophecy was over. So Christ was not only the author but 
also the finisher or perfecter of faith. 89 No new revelation 
of God's will could come after Christ had taught 90 and such 
prophecy as persisted for some time in the infant Church came 
from and through the Spirit of Christ. 91 It appears, there- 
fore, that this virtual supersession of the Jewish idea of 
Divine manifestation through the human spirit (signified by 
the term ' Holy Spirit ') by the ideas of a pre-existent Messiah 
and Wisdom or Logos rolled into one (standing for the cos- 
mic dealings of God through Christ) was responsible for the 
theory of Last Eevelation only that a careless slip about 
sending a Paraclete after Jesus had ascended to heaven 92 
was promptly seized upon by Muhammad as Jesus' 
prophecy regarding his (Muhammad's) own advent as 

M Die. Bi., n, p. 411. 

WHeb. 12.2. 

WActs 4.12. 

91 The original belief was that tho Apostles were directly and completely 
inspired. In the second century came the belief that every document which 
claimed admission to the sacred canon must be inspired or composed by an 
apostle.- See Moffatt, op. ct., pp. 47-8 (Seo Rev. 10.10). 

In the Old Testament prophecy had reference to national needs; but in 
the New Testament the prophets speak to the Church alone.- Moffatt, op. cit. t 
p. 212. 

W John 14.16, 26. Christ says he will pray the Father and He will send 
the Comforter. See 20. 22 where the Holy Ghost is breathed by him into his 


the Last Prophet. 93 But even in the New Testament 
there are evidences to show that the physical mani- 
festation of the Holy Spirit, about which the Rabbis 
had spoken, was originally accepted as true, and in imma- 
culate conception, at the baptism of Jesus, and at the meet- 
ing of the Apostles on the eve of their ministry after the 
death of Jesus, the Holy Spirit assumed some sort of physical 
appearance and it also came to Simeon and others, at the time 
either of Jesus' conception or of his birth, in a more intangi- 
ble form. The personality of the Holy Ghost is, however, 
pale and shadowy by the side of that of Jesus, 94 and but for 
the fact that a few passages retain the more ancient tradition 
that the Holy Spirit comes directly to all individuals (e.g., 
Luke xi. 13) it would have been difficult to find a place for 
the concept in the Christian gospels. As a matter "of fact, 
the manifestation of " a divine spirit of Mercy and of Wisdom 
and of Truth," 95 which the Holy Spirit stands for, was so 
diversely identified that while, on the one hand, it 
was equated with Christ himself, later Christianity in 
some of its forms felt no scruple, on the other 
hand, in identifying it with a Mother-God (unconsciously 
imitating thereby the Osiris-Isis-Horus group or re- 
suscitating the feminine term 'Wisdom' of Jewish religion) 

, the founder of the eclectic Manichaeism, had made the same 
claim before Muhammad. See Jackson, Researches in Manichaeism with special 
reference to the Turfan Fragments, p. 7. 

9* Paul's language concerning the Holy Spirit does not bear so immediately 
upon his doctrine of God, because the word 'Spirit' sometimes indicates a gift 
of God to men and sometimes God Himself working in men, as it did in the 
OT. A closer examination shows that the Holy Spirit is not a mere gift or 
influence; yet, while Divine, He is not the whole Godhead. The intensely 
personal language employed in such passages as 1 Co 2.10, 11, Bo 8.16, 26, and 
elsewhere, combined with the distinction maintained between the Spirit and 
Christ, the Spirit and the Father, makes the interpretation of the Holy Spirit in 
an OT or 'Unitarian* sense impossible. Again, apart from the phraseology of 
benediction in 2 Co 13.14, the general tenor of description in such passages as 
1 (V> 12.. 4-6 and Bph. 2.18, 22 shows that St. Paul thinks easily and naturally 
ir. terms of a Tri-unity in the Godhead, when speaking of Divine operations in 
the salvation of men and in the worship of the Church, EBB. vi. ?58, art. 
GOD (Biblical and Christian). See also ERE. xii. 459-60, art. TRINITY; 
also xi. 793 f. 

5 Hopkins, The Origin and Evolution of Religion, p. 389. 


and this Mother was indifferently thought of as Mary (the 
Mother of God) 96 or the Church (whose children the Christi- 
ans are) or even as the deaconesses of the early Church. 97 If 
the interpolated passage in the last chapter of Matthew be 
kept out of account, it would be difficult to establish a trini- 
tarian belief on the New Testament, where, in different parts, 
two only of the Divine Trinity are more often referred to 
together. 98 But the later belief that Christ sent the Holy Spirit 
to abide permanently in his Church had a tendency to assign 
to the latter a definitely inferior status, which is a complete 
reversal of the position that the Son of God was born of the 
Holy Ghost 99 and that "Whosoever shall speak a word against 
the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall 
speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, 
neither in this world, nor in that which is to come." 100 
When God and Christ were assimilated to each other, the 
Holy Spirit came to be regarded as proceeding from both the 
Father and the Son : it is in this form that the belief appears 
in the Westminster Gonfeuxion and on this is based the fiction 
that from the pre-existent Son of God proceeded the inspira- 
tion that gave to pre-Christian prophets their spiritual insight 
and their power of revelation (' Before Abraham was, I am'). 
As a matter of fact, the tendency of subsequent thought was 
to limit the gift of the Holy Spirit (in the sense of divine 
inspiration) to the Church as a whole 101 or at least to the 
assembly of pious Christians, 102 although the Apostles had no 
difficulty in promising the gift of the Holy Ghost to all who 

the Qur'an the Christian Trinity is taken as composed of God, 
Mary and Christ. 

7 Hopkins, Or. & #t>. of ReL, p. 338. 

9 See 2 Cor. 13.14; 1 John 5.7-8; also Mark 12.36; Luke 2.26; Act* 1.16; 
130.28. liefer in this connection specially to Bethune-Baker, op. at., Gh. Xlll. 
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity. 

"Luke 1.85. 

100 See Mat. 12.31-2; Mk. 3.29; Lk. 12.10. 

1012 Pet. 120 (See Dummeiow, op. oit., p. 1050). See esp. EKE. xi. 796 
where the distinction between Pauline and Johannine conceptions is to be found. 

109 Quakerism may very well quote Acts 2. 1-4 m support of the view that 
when people are ' with one accord in one place ' (The Revised Version has ' all 
together in one place 1 ) , the; Holy Ghost descends on the assembly and moves 
the tongue. 



would accept the message of Christ 103 and in preaching that 
the operation of the spirit of God might endow different indi- 
viduals with different powers. 104 

So far as the development of the Christian life is con- 
cerned, it is immaterial, however, in what relation the Holy 
Spirit stands to God the Father and God the Son or whether 
it is sufficiently hypostatised, so long as it is acknowledged 
that people could draw the inspiration of their lives from the 
influx of divinity into themselves by initiation into the 
Christian religion. God as the ultimate source of all spiri- 
tuality in man, the Holy Spirit as the power of God working 
in man in the form of striving towards moral and spiritual 
ideals, and Christ representing the possibility of a perfect 
realisation of infinite ideals in a finite life constituted a trinity 
which satisfied all spiritual needs; 105 and the enthusiasm and 
energy of the first disciples (who mastered different tongues 
to speak to the surrounding nations in their own languages 106 
about the message of Christ) can only be compared with those 
displayed by the Arabs after their acceptance of the message 
of Muhammad. The following quotation well summarises the 
effects of the belief, that the spirit of God had come to dwell 
in the Church, as gathered from the Acts of the Apostles : 
" There was a wide-spread diffusion of the Spirit not only in 
Palestine, but further afield in the Eoman Empire, and it 
was manifested, abnormally and explosively, by extraordinary 
elevation of human faculties, so that miracles, prophecy, 
glossolaly, and visions were abundant; more normally in 
great enthusiasm, new courage, liberty of speech, skill in 
debate, keen insight into and wise use of scripture, sound 
judgment of human character, business aptitude, and com- 
fort in suffering. The Spirit is not presented as the principle 
of ethical life, as in Paul, yet ethical qualities of repentance. 

iw Acts 2.38-9 19.6. See Foundations, pp. 42, 69. 

iWActs 2.4-li'. 

*<* See J. 8. Huxley, Religion without Revelation, Ch. n. 

u* The gift of tongues, referred to in Acts ii. 4, is probably an echo of the 
Jewish traditions of the Law-giving in seventy languages at Sinai. See EKE r 
ri. 793. 


obedience, and faith are needed for its reception, and it be- 
longed to every believer. In the communal life of the 
Ecclesia it inspired mutual service, generous self-sacrifice, 
joyous fellowship, thus transforming and socialising human 
nature. The Spirit supervised every stage of the Ecclesia's 
advance, but neither conferred infallibility nor superseded 
human judgment. It is described impersonally as a gift, 
which God gives or the Son outpours, more usually as power. 
Yet personal actions are attributed to the Spirit : it ' speaks,' 
1 bears witness/ ' separates ' for service, ' approves ' a con- 
ciliar decision, ' forbids, 1 ' appoints overseers/ and can be 
'resisted,' ' tempted/ and ' lied against.' In these last 
cases the Spirit is co-ordinated with God, but there is no at- 
tempt to think out the relation of the Spirit to the Father and 
the Son. Once, though perhaps the passage denotes merely a 
vision, it is called ' the Spirit of Hesus' (Ifi 7 ). But, as regards 
men, the Spirit denotes the divine, the supernatural, for it 
comes from God, indicates Jesus' claim to be Messiah, 
authenticates His exaltation, fulfils OT prophecy, and is the 
medium whereby He is present and operative within His 
Church/' 107 In Pauline literature the operation of the Holy 
Spirit was deepened; the possession of " all the blessings of 
God's kingdom faith, righteousness, joy, and peace %> 
was ascribed to its operation, as also the quickening of con- 
science, love, holiness and immortality. In Johannine litera- 
ture " the Pauline characteristic of the Spirit as power is 
dropped, as also that of the Spirit as source of ethical gifts 
like faith and peace, whilst the operation of the Spirit as life- 
giving is more emphasised." It will thus be seen that, on 
the whole, the Christian interpretation of Holy Spirit was an 
advance upon the Jewish conception in that although it tended 
to limit inspiration to the Church, it yet provided the basis of 
that universality and that ethical idealism which have 
characterised the progress of Christianity in space and time. 

We may very well believe that with the lapse of time the 
Christian Church gained a deeper appreciation of God's rela- 

107 EBB. zi. 792; also zi. 806-9.. 


tion'to man, especially to those who would accept Christ. 
Hitman history was conceived as moving towards the ideal of 
a theocratic regime, the germs of which had already been laid 
irrthe minds of the pious few. The Son of Man would come 
in glory to rule over a purified world and unceasing prepara- 
tions must go on to hasten his advent. Israel had dreamt of 
a day when even animals would forsake their ferocity and 
from all corners of the world would gather nations, or a pioiis 
remnant, to establish under a Messiah a new covenant with 
God and to establish His kingdom for ever at Zion. The 
Apostles tauglit that the Son of Man had already appeared, 
bteing duly announced by John the Baptist who had asked the 
people to prepare the way of the Lord for His kingdom was 
near at hand. But, that the kingdom that the Messiah 
would establish is not a political but a spiritual one, estab- 
lished through his atoning death, that those in power in that 
kingdom are not the rich and the proud but the poor and the 
meek, and that the greatest privilege there is not to rule but 
to serve these ideas were novel in the Christian message and 
were unacceptable to the Jews, who therefore rejected him. 108 
It must be admitted that this exalted conception of the 
liingdom of God was of a slow growth in the minds of the 
Apostles perhaps even in the consciousness of Jesus. At 
this distance of time we can only make guesses on the basis of 
extant documents that have passed through the editing 
hands of a later generation who had lived to see 
the futility of Jewish Messianic hopes about a Deliverer 
who would bring back the political glory of Israel and 
establish the spiritual superiority of Israel over other nations. 
In order to win Jewish converts the idea of a political saviour 

108 The Kingdom has a triple meaning. Firstly, it is something super- 
natural, a gift from above, not a product of ordinary life * Secondly, it is a 
purely religious blessing, the inner link with the living God; thirdly, it is the 
most important experience that a man can have, that on which everything else 
depends; -it permeates and dominates his whole existence, because sin is forgiven 
and misery banished Harnack, What it Christianity?, p. 64. See Foundations, 
p. lllf; Caird, The Fundamental Ideas of Christianity, Vol. II, Lect, XIX; also 
Boyce, op. ctt., p. 86 f, 49 f, 3601, 


was not totally abandoned and a number of passages can be 
easily quoted to show that attempts were made to identify 
Jesus with the Jewish Messiah. Thus he was regarded as 
having a Davidic descent (the immaculate conception neces- 
sitating a belief that not only Joseph but also Mary belonged 
to the royal house), his disciples speculated about their posi- 
tions in his kingdom, 109 and his last entry into Jerusalem was 
pictured as a triumphal procession. There is reason to think 
that he was regarded as stirring up the lower classes to rebel- 
lion by preaching the evils of the capitalistic regime > promis- 
ing blefcsiflgs to the poor and gathering round aboat him a 
number of men who had left their families to help him in his 
mission of the sword as against that of peace. At his trial 
and on his conviction, reference to his being the King of 
the Jews was also made by his accusers. Those who asked 
him whether payment could be legitimately made to Caesar 
had a similar motive, namely, to ascertain whether he ad- 
mitted his political mission. The belief that such a Messiah 
would come is still a part of the Jewish creed, and the Chris- 
tians, who, even after the failure of Jesus' political mission 
and his ignominious death, continued to believe that the 
Kingdom of God had come through his sufferings, were ana- 
thematised as sectaries in the Jewish formula of faith. 

In consonance with the systematic practice of the editors 
of the Gospels to invent sayings and situations which would 
confirm Old Testament prophecies in the life of Jesus we have 
another set of ideas regarding the Kingdom ot God. The 
Book of Daniel had spoken of one like unto a son of Main 
coming with the clouds of heaven and given an everlasting 
dominion. 110 In Rabbinical and Apocalyptic literature a 
judgment of the world was a prominent belief, and John the 
Baptist too had taught that the Kingdom of heaven was at 
hand. These current eschatological beliefs could not fail to 
affect the conception of the kingdom that Jesus was supposed 

HO pan. 7.13-14 f 27, 


to have come to establish. 111 It was confidently expected that 
tie end of the world was in sight; and Jesus too was made to 
say that the Kingdom of God was surely coming possibly 
before his contemporaries had all died 112 and in his instruc*- 
tions to the Apostles he asked them to preacli the nearness of 
the Kingdom of heaven 113 in order to bring home to the people 
the urgent necessity of squaring up their earthly accounts by 
repentance and acceptance of his message. Christ could allude 
in this connection to the many mansions in his Father's house 
and it is of this kingdom of heaven that Peter was promised 
the keys by him. The message was taken so literally by some 
of the faithful that the rearing of a family was regarded by 
them as unnecessary in view of the impending catastrophe 
which would separate the wheat and the tares that were grow- 
ing lip together in the meantime. 114 In the kingdom to come 
many of the sons of Abraham would find no place but many 
Gentiles would. 115 

If then the first conception of the Kingdom of God to be 
ruled over by the Messiah was meant for the glorification of 
Israel, the second was reserved for the righteous irrespective 
of nationality. But both were concerned with certain objec- 
tive events a change in political conditions in the one case 
and a change in cosmic conditions in the other. A truer in- 
sight is to be found, however, in other passages where the 

mSee Mat. 19.28; also Harnack, What t> Christianity?, p. 175; Founda* 
tions, p. 88 f , for a summary of previous speculations on this aspect of the advent 
of the Messiah. 

H2 The statements are slightly conflicting. In Mat. 24.34-6, Mk. 0.1 and 
Lk. 9.27 the clay and hour are not known definitely but " this generation 
shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled" ; in Lk. 17.20 and Mk. 18.82, 85 
reference is made to the fact that the kingdom of God does not come with obser- 
vation or man's knowledge and that all that we can do is to watch and pray. 
See Harnack, op. eft., p. 42 f, 68 f 

m Mat. 10.7; also 4.17; also Mk. 1.15. 

iHMoffatt thinks (op. cit., p. 109) that "it was not the New Testament, 
it was the reading of the uncanonical Acts, the Acts of Paul, of John, of Philip, 
of Peter, and so forth, which was responsible for the unhealthy stress on celibacy 
and the morbid antipathy to marriage during the second and the third centuries, 
and which eventually emerged in some forms of monastioism.*' 

us See Mat. 8.11-12; 18.40-48; 19.28-80; 25.81-46; John 14.1-2; Lk. 18. 


Kingdom of God refers to certain changes in the hearts of 
men which tend to alter so materially the existing coi\cep- 
tions of social relationship that if they can be brought about, 
heaven would come down on earth. 116 The Kingdom of God 
is within us. 117 It begins without their knowledge in v thq 
small acts of love (which Christ compares to mustard-seecb) 
provided men abandon the sophistications of age, and regain 
the innocence of childhood. Commenting on the passage^' 
Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid, them 
not; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven/' 118 Neander ob-r 
serves : * ' This single saying expressed the whole nature, of 
the Gospel preached by Christ. It implied that he viewed the 
Kingdom of God as an invisible and spiritual one, to enter 
which a certain disposition of heart was essential, viz., a 
child-like spirit, free from pride and self-will, receiving 
Divine impressions in humble submission and conscious de- 
pendence : in a word, all the qualities of the child, suffering 
itself to be guided by the developed leason of the adult, are to 
be illustrated in the relations between man and God." 119 
Quite in keeping with the above is the other teaching of Jesus 
that it is only to the poor in spirit that the kingdom of heaivefc' 
belongs 120 a very useful corrective to the impression that 
might have been created in the minds of his following that 
heaven belonged to the poor in wealth and to those who had 
forsaken their relations and possessions for him 121 and that 
the rich would have no access, or a very difficult access, to 
heaven. 122 "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the 
Kingdom of God/' 123 

'H6<?/. The Lord's prayer: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in 
heaven, BO on earth. 

Obviously this can refer only to men choosing freely what God wisKes 
them to do. (Cf. Mat. 7. 21.) 

H7 Lk. 17. 21. See Harnack, op. ctt., p. 57; also p. 63. 

us Mat. 18.1-11; Mk. 10.14-6. 

H9 Neander, Life of Christ (Bonn's ed., 1871), pp. 864-5. 

MO Mat. 6. 3. 

121 See Harnack, op. cit., p. 81 f , p. 00 f. 

122 Mat. 19.24; Mk. 10.24; Irk. 6.20; 18.29-80. 
m John 8.8; also 8.5. 


There can be no question that in the Epistles taken as a 
whole it is this spiritual interpretation that dictates social 
dealings. 124 Husbands and wives, masters and servants, 
fathers and children, brothers and brothers, are td accommo- 
date themselves and be just to one another to establish a peace- 
ful and pure society, 126 and people are advised not to tirag their 
complaints before unbelievers or a court of law bat to the 
saints or to the wise elders of the Church. Sinning either 
with the body or with the mind is the surest way of exclud- 
ing oneself from God's Kingdom and the mere external ob- 
servance of formalities does not make a man righteous, just 
aslts non-observance does not make a man vicious. M Know 
ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of 
God? Be not deceived : neither fornicators, nor idolaters, 
nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with 
men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, 
nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." 126 De- 
filement does not come from food and drink but from unrigh- 
teous thoughts and acts : " for the kingdom of God is not 
eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in 
the Holy Ghost." 127 Although the beginning of this kingdom 
through Jesus was an act of Divine grace, yet its 
consummation depends upon steady faith and constant 
prayer even under the provocative oppression of the 
unbelieving and the unjust. 128 The standard of spiritual 
attainment necessary for entrance into this kingdom 
is indicated by the saying of Jesus that the righteous- 
ness must be both qualitatively and quantitatively 
more qualitatively than quantitatively better and greater 
than that of the Scribes and the Pharisees and that the least 
in this kingdom is greater than even John the Baptist, 129 who 

u*8ee Die. Bi. 9 II, p. 852; also Barnack, op. tit., p. 10 f. 
USHarnack, op. cit. t p. 174. 
1*1 Cor. 6.9-10. 

w* Rom. 14. 17. C/. Gal. 6.22 : The frnil of the Spirit ia love, joy, peace, 
longsnffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance* 
i See ERE. vii. 612, art. JE8TJ8 CHRIST. 
I* Mat. 11. 11? Lk. 7.28. 


was the best representative of the old morality as taught in 
the Law and the Prophets. But, for this spiritual attain- 
ment, confession of sin, rather than obedience to the Law, 
is essential, and many a publican and many a harlot will 
qualify for admission into this realm of everlasting life 
while many children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will be 
wailing and gnashing their teeth outside its walls. Moral 
perfection is individual and not tribal, and there is no limit 
to spiritual perfection attainable by man : " Be ye perfect, 
even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.' 1130 Unto 
righteousness all things are added a Divine Providence 
looks to the daily needs of the righteous and they need not be 
worried by the thought of being forgotten by a God without 
whose knowledge not even a sparrow falls to the ground. 131 
So it is not the needs of temporal existence that should ab- 
sorb the attention of men but the demands of eternal life. 
What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world 
and lose his own soul? Interpreted rightly, " the Christian 
religion," says FTarnack, " means one thing and one thing 
only : Eternal life in the midst of time, by the strength imd 
under the eyes of God." 132 

It would be idle to deny the tremendous influence that 
Christianity wielded at one time over the hearts of men when 
of all religions it alone remained missionary and invited 
people to forsake their effete ancestral creeds in favour 
of its own message of salvation. Born at a time 
when the old Mediterranean religions were in a decadent 
condition, it could rouse the conscience of better minds 

130 Mat. 5. 48. In Catholicism this was mellowed down into the distinction 
between a perfect and a sufficient morality .See Harnaok, op. cit., p. 217. 

131 See Basanta Coomar Bose, Christianity, p. 41. 
i32Harnack, op. cit. t p. 8. 

Kitschl's definition of Christianity represents an ideal : "Christianity is 
that monotheistic religion, wholly spiritual and ethical, which, based upon the 
life of its author as redeemer and as the founder of the Kingdom of God, consists 
in the freedom of divine sonship, involves the impulse to active conduct from 
the motive of love, aims at the moral organisation of mankind, and lays the 
basis of bliss in sonship towards God as well as in the Kingdom of God" 
(quoted by Moffatt, op. cit., pp. 207-8). 



to a sense of the degeneration of the spiritual element in 
religion and the necessity of a more ethical and less formal 
method of divine worship. Christ was a Saviour-god but 
was also at the same time an ethical personality, and the 
religion that he preached was the well-known religion of the 
Jews which emphasised the holy character of God. The 
difficulty arose when the Apostles and their followers began 
to invest Christ with a divine character; for it was then that 
speculations began about the exact nature and significance 
of the advent of Jesus. To make the religion acceptable, 
contemporary predilections for a Saviour-god, a Messiah, a 
Sacrifice to appease Justice, and a pre-existent Principle had 
all to be satisfied : the effect was Christological speculation 
with its hair-splitting distinctions and its gradual tendency to 
emphasise the divinity of Christ and a consequential 
plurality within the inner life of God. Sects and 
schisms rapidly arose mostly over the question of the 
nature of Christ, and by the end of the 6th century 
most of the theories about the nature and necessity of the 
mediation of Christ had been propounded and defended with 
zeal, if not with bitterness also. The spiritual message 
ran some risk of being relegated to a secondary position 
in order to make room for the Messiah in men's minds, and 
slowly but surely many pagan ideas, associations, cults and 
ceremonies effected an entrance into the service of the Chris- 
tian Church. Time was again ripe for an organised protect 
against over-subtlety in faith and plurality in godhead ; find 
the protest came from the Arabian deserts where debased 
and heretical schools had been preaching a Christianity far 
removed from the simple message of Christ to suffering 
and sinful humanity. 



Muhammad's chief merit lies in his uncompromising 
monotheism which is perhaps partially due to the fear that 
any concession on that head would lead to polytheism a form 
of belief which he detested. Convinced that the idols that 
disfigured the Ka'ba 1 were nonentities and that the Arab 
belief that Allah had sons and daughters was radically 
false, he laid down that God was one and everlasting, that He 
did not beget any being nor was He Himself begotten and 
that there was none like unto Him. 2 And this conviction 
did not remain a mere intellectual formula but became an 
overmastering passion which drove him to proclaim his belief 
openly, with grave consequences to his personal safety. How 
he arrived at this conception of a unitary godhead is yet a 
matter of dispute. Judaism and Christianity were not un- 
known in Arabia, and Muhammad in his travels to distant 
regions in charge of caravans must have known of their reli- 
gion and their method of worship. It is doubtful, however, 
if at first he knew the Bible with any intimacy at all, 3 for refer- 
ences to it are such as would betray simply an acquaintance 
with tit-bits of Jewish and Christian tales about past heroes, 
prophets, miracles and such other spectacular personages and 

1 It has been suggested that the cult at the Ka'ba with its 860 idols was 
aatral in character; possibly it was syncretic. See Encyclopaedia of Islam, II, 
p. 591. 

2 Sura cxii. 

3 Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment, pp. 46, 67, 186, 
140; Rodwell's Koran, Preface, pp. xviii-xix : Lammens, Islam: Beliefs and 
Institutions, p. 89; Ndldeke, Sketches from Eastern History, p. 80 f.; EBB. viii. 


events possibly oral stories repeated with circumstantial 
details in the manner of the Talmudic and the Apocryphal 
literature. 4 Jews had settled in Yathrib (Medina) and 
elsewhere in the pursuit of trade; and Christians, mostly of 
heretical schools, driven out from the then centres of Chris- 
tian culture, had taken refuge in South Arabia, Abyssinia 
and the fringes of the Hijaz, and the Christian hermit, it 
appears, was not an unknown figure even to pre-Islamic 
poets. 6 But even though there were Jewish and Christian 
converts among the Arabs, their allegiance was of the shallow- 
est type and their knowledge of the deeper principles of their 
own religion was at best insignificant. 

But the collective influence of the religious forces on a 
few pre-Islamic Arabs manifests itself in the absorption of a 
number of Aramaic, Ethiopic and Abyssinian words connect- 
ed with religion, a knowledge of the sacred books possessed 
by the Jews and the Christians, possibly also a belief in a 
future life. 6 Again, as Bell remarks, " what was meant by 
a prophet, a holy book, revelation, prayer, and praise, cannot 
have been entirely unknown to the Arabs." 7 Some passages 
in the Qur'an make it probable that the tribal polytheism was 
being gradually tempered by the recognition of a supreme 
deity 8 sometime before the birth of Muhammad, and that, 
while in distress, the people called upon him for safety and 
help although in more peaceful times they went back to their 
idols. 9 In fact, since the time of the Elkesaites (c. 100 

* Bell, op. cit., p. 110; also p. 112. See Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, art. 
JEWS (p. 235) for Muhammad's knowledge of Jewish religious literature. See 
also Sir William Muir, The Mohammedan Controversy and other articles, pp. 129-30. 

5 Bell, <>/>. cit., pp. 43 f., 143; Sir William Muir, Life of Mohammad, 
pp. xcv, 22; see Khuda BukliHh, Essays Indian and Islamic,, p. 5; also Archer, 
Mystical Elements "in Mohammed, p. 58, p. 61 f. 

6 Boll, op. cit., p. 50 f. See Noldeke, o/j. cit., pp. 37-38; Archer, Mystical 
Elements in Mohammed, Ch. VII (pp. 61-70). 

'' BelJ, op. cit., p. 52. 

8 Boll, op. cit., p. 56 f. GuiUaume, Traditions of Islam, p. 143; Macdtmald, 
Development of Muslim Theology, p. 124. 

' Sura xxziz. 11. 

EBB fiANlFS 349 

A.D.), 10 whose beliefs are remarkably similar to those of 
Islam, the conjoint influence of Judaism and Christianity 
was responsible for sporadic monotheistic attempts by persons 
who claimed prophetic designation and honour false pro- 
phets, according to Christianity and Islam. The people who 
influenced Muhammad's thought most were probably the 
fltamfs, 11 who were indigenous monotheists attached neither 
to Judaism nor to Christianity a designation of uncertain 
derivation used in the Qur'an specially of Abraham 12 to whom 
Muhammad went back in search of a monotheist who had 
flourished long before the founders of the Jewish and Chris- 
tian faiths were born, and who, through Ishrnael, was the 
father of the Arab race. 13 It would be strange indeed if a rest- 

10 Bell, op. cit., p. 59 f. ERE, art. EL.KESAITE8, does not admit that the 
Elkesaite influence on Islam is proved. 

n See footnote 1 in Kod well's Koran, p. 216, to Sura xvi. 121. Also Bell, 
o/>. cit., p. 57 f. Islam has sometimes been designated as Hamtism. see Enc. I si , 
II, p. 259 (art. HANJF); also Archer, op. cit., p. 68 f. 

12 in the sense of one who was neiher a Jew nor a Christian and yet was 
no idolater. It was also used in respect of one steadfast in the Islamic faith. 
It originally applied to persona who had turned away from the idolatrous religion 
of Arabia to a monotheistic iaith. See Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, snb voce 
HANIF (p. 161). It is not impossible that Muhammad borrowed this appeal from 
Moses to Abraham from ihe Christians. The Legacy of Israel, p. 131 (See Gal. iii. 
7-8, 15-17). See Mottatt, op. cit., p. 63 Commenting on Sura xxx. 29, Bell 
remarks, " The term bant/ is associated with Abraham not, 1 think, because 
Abraham is legarded as specially a hanif more than others, but rather because the 
recognition of the place of Abraham, and the idea of this eternally existing 
religion again and again renewed by the prophets, came to Muhammad about Die 
same time. Other prophets and other true believers were fcani/0."-- -Bell, op. cit., 
p. 132; also pp. 57, 129 f. See Sell, Essays on Islam, p. 242 f. 

13 Ishmael was the son of Hagar, the bondwoman of Abraham's wife Sarah, 
while Isaac was Sarah's son. (Hence the Arabs and the Jews were brethren or 
cousins). Greatness was promised of the progeny of both Isaac and Ishmael 
(Gen. 22. 16-18 ; 21. 13). For an interesting allegorical use of the relation between 
Isaac (the Christians) and Ishmael (the Jews), see Gal. 4. 21 f. (See Moffatt, 
op. cit., p. 134, for interpretation.) For the influence of the religion of Abraham's 
Harran, eee EUE. viii. 875. 

Snouck Hurgronje (and before him Sprenger) has pointed out that in the 
Meccan Suras it is often said that no prophetic admonisher Lad been sent to the 
Arabs before Muhammad and that although Abraham occupied a prominent place 
among the prophets there was nothing to distinguish him from the rest so far 
as the Arabs were concerned. In the Medinese Suras, however, after the breach 
with the Jews, Muhammad began to teach that Abraham had lived in Mecca and 


less mind, convinced of the futility of polytheism and idolatry, 
should not seek the company of those who could enlighten him 
on points of doubt ; but at the same time one would not seek 
such company if one had not independently arrived at a tenta- 
tive conclusion regarding the unity of godhead. It is not pos- 
sible for any man to escape the influence of contemporary 
social movements : it is not impossible that Jewish, Christian 
and indigenous monotheistic ideas were unconsciously in 
operation in Muhammad's mind, although it is quite possible 
that he never consciously borrowed elements from their reli- 
gion till his own faith had been firmly fixed and the neces- 
sity had arisen of showing its filiation to previous systems of 
belief. 14 - 

It is easier to show that, in spite of his uncompromising 
hostility to the general Arabic belief in a multiplicity of gods 
and disbelief in future life, 16 he was anxious to retain as many 
of the Arab practices and prejudices as he could, consistently 
with a monotheistic creed. He tacitly consented to the con- 
tinuance of the heathen Arabic (and Semitic) custom of 
circumcision and possibly only his ignorance of the covenant 
with Abraham, his religious hero, prevented him from giving 
it a religious sanction. 16 "His teaching developed in the 
early period, not according to Biblical models but in the style 
of the pagan Arab sooth-sayers with their oracles, formulae 
for blessings and curses, etc.," and their rhymed prose 
(sadj). i7 After some hesitation he retained ' Allah ' as the 
name of God although it had polytheistic association, this 

founded the sanctuary of the Black Stone with his son Ishmael. See Enc. /*/.. 
11, p. 1075; also p. 432. 

M See Legacy of Israel, p. 132 f . ; Sir William Muir, Life of Mohammad, 
pp. 102, 143 f. 

ifi Sura zziii. 33-40. 

M " Circumcision is not once alluded to in the Qur'ftn...It is held to be 
Sunn a, or founded upon the customs of the Prophet, and dating its institution 
from the time of Abraham. . . According to several Muhammadan doctors, there 
were seventeen of the prophets born in a circumcised state " (Muhammad was one of 
them). Hughes, Die. IsL, p. 57, art. CIRCUMCISION. See in this connection 
too' note to Sura ii. 132 in Kod well's Koran. 

17 Enc. IsL, II, p. 1066; see Lammens, op. ct., p. 46: "This use o f 
oaths grows less as the Prophet ncars the Hijra, and ceases 
entirely at Medina.'* See Macdonald, Religious Attitude and Life in Islam* 


being the name of the supreme deity among the other gods of 
pre-Islamic Arabia. 18 The Ka'ba was permitted by the icono- 
clastic reformer to retain its sanctity and its black stone, 
pilgrimage to Mecca continued as in the days of yore, and 
some of the ancient Arab customs and acts continued, albeit 
with a new significance, in the rules about pilgrimage, which 
ultimately became one of " the pillars of Islam." 19 When 
he failed to carry the Jews with him, Muhammad changed 
the Kibla from Jerusalem to Mecca even though the latter 
had no monotheistic associations before his own reforms. 20 

pp. 31 f . , 64 f . For Muhammad's belief in evil eye and spells against its 
influence, see Sura cxiii. 1, 2, 5; Westermarck, Pagan Survivals in Mohammedan 
Civilisation, p. 55; also pp. 115 (where references to swearing by the moon 
would be found), 117 (where " God loves the odd " is exemplified). 

W Bell, op. oit. t pp. 55, 116 f. For Muhammad's attempts to accommodate 
Meccan beliefs, see EKE. viii. 875. See Hughes, Die. Islam, p. 19i, sub vect 
IDOLATBY; Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Cli. 1, Vol. IT, 
p. 425 f. (ed. Ward, Lock and Co.). 

JNoldeke remarks, " Among the heathen Arabs of later times Allah is extremely 
common both by itself and in theophoroup names " (EKE. i. 664). 
" In theophorous proper names the deity sometimes appears as a lord, 
while the human individual is his servant, his hand-maid, his obedient subject 
(fan*); sometimes, again, the deity is described as gracious, while the human 
individual is his gift, his reward, his act of favour, the aid which he supplies, 
his protege" who seeks refuge with him, etc. At other times the deity is repre- 
sented as increasing the family, as sending a good omen and good fortune .. 
Some of these compounds are of doubtful meaning. With the exception of a very 
small number of uncertain cases found in inscriptions, there are absolutely no 
names which designate a human being as the kinsman or descendant of a deity, 
like those which we find among the Hebrews and other Semites." (EBE. i. P65). 

For Quianic references to pre-Tslamic Allah, see Enc. 1*1., I, p. 302, art. 

MSee, e.g., Sura ii. 153. See Enc. IsL, TI, pp. 587 f., 444 (Id al-Adfca) 
199 f. For a modern interpretation of the rites of the pilgrimage, see Lammens, 
op. cit., p, 218. 

20 See Sura ii. 136-45, which abrogate ii. 109. See also Sura ix. 1-12, 28, 
35 f. See Sir W. Muir, Life of Mohammad, pp. 189, 195; T. W. Arnold, The 
Preaching of Islam (1913), pp. 26-27. Abraham and Ishmael are claimed as tbe 
founders and builders of the Ka'ba at Mecca and the historical basis of Islam is 
assured. -Lagrocy of Israel, p. 132. See Sura xxii. 27, 77; iii. 60, 91, and many 
other places about Abraham being the founder of monotheism (and Islam). ?foe 
Bell, op. cit. 9 p. 144. For legends, see Enc. IsL, II, p. 589 (Adam is supposed to 
be its founder); also p. 543. For the antiquity of Mecca, see Sir William Muir, 
Life of Mohammad, p. oil f. Mecca is regarded by Islam as the navel of the aarth. 
" It forms the part of the earth which was created before the rest of it and around 


What is more important to consider is the light in which 
Muhammad took his own prophetic mission. 21 Judging by 
the probabilities of the case, it is likely that his soul was 
primarily stirred against the debased religious beliefs and the 
iniquitous social practices of his countrymen. 22 No doubt 
can be entertained about the sincerity of his convictions or 
his zeal in proclaiming them in no uncertain terms; 23 for he 
knew very well the risk he ran in touching a lucrative source 
of revenue of the Koreish and a deep-rooted pagan sentiment 
of the people at large. That he felt a call to act in the man- 
ner of earlier prophets may be admitted without any question : 
he was no deceiver or charlatan who wanted to gather a fol- 
lowing or a fortune by his prophetic office, if the unanimous 
testimony to the beginning of his prophetic career can be 
relied upon. As Dr. Leitner observes, " If self-sacrifice, 
honesty of purpose, unswerving belief in one's mission, a 
marvellous insight into existing wrong or error, and the per- 
ception and use of the best means for its removal, are among 
the outward and visible signs of inspiration, the mission of 
Muhammad was inspired." 24 Tt is extremely likely that 
originally Muhammad considered himself to be a warner 86 
in the fashion of John the Baptist, announcing the nearness 
of the Last Judgment and calling his countrymen to the wor- 
ship of a unitary God * and the belief in a destiny beyond the 

wlu-h the rest stretches. It is also the highest point, the place which provides 
the whole world with its nourishment; and it forms the place of communication 
with the upper and the under world.- Knc. I*L, II, p. 590. Cf. Proverbs viii. 22-36. 
See Muhammad Ali's Holy Quran, p. 170 f., notes 467-69. 

21 See Sir W. Muir, Life of Mohammad, Ch. HI; also p. 71. 

During the ten first years of his prophetic career Muhammad only attacks 
the heathen, and lefrains from falling upon the Jews, and Christians with whom 
he believed himself to be in agreement on the fundamentals of his preaching. 
Lammens, op. eit. v pp. 46-47. 

* The oldest Suras are " the most animated, the most lyrical, and also the 
most abrupt. 11 Another peculiarity is " the multiplicity and piling-up of oaths." 
See Lammens, op. eft., p. 46; also Noldeke, Sketches from Eastern Hi*t"fy, 
p. 86. 

* Religious Systems of the World, p. 298. 
35 Sura xxix. 49. 

The idea of the unity of Allfth does not occupy EO fcige a place in the 
earliest parts of the Kur'ftn'; later, however, it occurs many times. Wensinrk, Th 


grave. At a later time when he put forward Abraham 
(Ibrahim) as ' the friend of God ' (Khalilullak) he represent- 
ed him as doing to his father's idols what he himself intended 
to do to the idols at Ka'ba, namely, utter destruction. 87 
With increased success and greater knowledge of the achieve- 
ments of earlier prophets he could tell his people that the 
treatment that they were meting out to him had befallen the 
lot of these earlier prophets also, but that their countrymen 
had to pay dearly for their unbelief. Here Muhammad 
figures as one prophet among others and he could preach that 
Allah sends to each nation its own prophet whom it should 
hear and obey. 28 When he began to recite the Quranic 
verses in his public ministry at Mecca and conceived the Hea 
of a divine mission, 29 two ideas were combined : he was not 
an ordinary prophet but an Apostle and a law-giver like Moses 
and Christ 30 and through him the Arabs were going to get 
from heaven a sacred book in their own language as the Jews 
had theirs through Moses. 31 His sole ambition seems to have 

Muslim Creed, p 4 (References are to Suras cxii, ii. 256, xxvii. 26, xxviii. 89; 
see also iv. 40, 51, 89, 116). Snouck Hurgronje called attention to the very import- 
ant point that Muhammad did not from the very first proclaim strict monotheism as 
the prin-ipai thing but the approach of the Last Judgment, from which he was to 
save his countrymen. The assertion that there is no god but Allah appears sporadi- 
cally from Ixiii. 9 onwards; and it must certainly have taken some time before 
there was a definite breach with the idolaters (Sura cix) and before he met them 
with the declaration of the oneness of God (Sura cxii). Enc. Isl. t II, p. 1075, art 

OT The story in Sura xxi. 52 f. The story is taken from Rabbinical litera- 
ture (see Legacy of Israel, p. 141). See Enc. /*/., II, p. 481, art. IBRAHIM. See 
also Sir W. Muir, The Life of Mohammad, pp. 408-09. 

Sura iv. 161-63, 168. See Bell, op. oft, p. 127. 

For the arrangement of the Suras according to periods, see Hughes, 
Dictionary of Islam, art. QTVR'AN, p. 493 f . There is no unanimity about arrange- 
ment : compare, for instance, Rodwell and Hughes. 

M Bell, op. cit., p. 125 f. 

aiHee art. PROPHET in Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p. 475; also Bell, 
op. cit., p. 93 f. Muhammad is divinely authorised to communicate the Book of 
(Sod. He even communicates it in hifl own language, but whether the original in in 
Arabic is not clear; there is at least a suggestion that it is in a divine language : 
" We have made it un Arabic Koran 'hat ye might understand it, but in the origi- 
nal with us it w publime, wise (xliii 2).*' Margoliouth, Early Development of 
Muhammadanism, p. 9. On ' Arabic Qur'an,' see The Apology of Al Kindy, 
pp. 79-84; T. W. Arnold, op. cit., p. 07. 



been originally to be recognised as a genuine vehicle of divine 
decrees and not to be stigmatised as an impostor, a mere 
poet, 32 a plagiarist or a redactor of ancient prophecies. Ho 
repudiated the suggestion that he had confederates possibly 
Jewish and Christian from whom he borrowed materials 
and that he was trying to pass off his own composition as 
divine revelation, sent down from heaven through angelic 
agency. 33 

But very soon Muhammad assumed a more ambitious 
role. He not only believed that an illiterate man like him- 
self 34 could not have composed such elegant verses and he 
Challenged his contemporaries to produce ten verses to matrh 

M For Muhammad's attitude towards pools, see Archer, op. eft., p. 79 f. ; 
Ma'xlonald, Religious Attitude and Life in /.s/aw, p. 18 f. Rco Sir W. Muir, Life 
of Mohammad, pp. 78, 127. 

S3 At a later period of his career no one would venture to douht the divine 
origin of the entire book. But at its commencement the ease was different. The 
people of Mecca spoke openly and tauntingly of it as the work of a poet, an * 
collation of antiquated or fabulous legends, or a palpable sorcery. They accused 
him of having confederates, and even specified foreigners who had been his n 
ad'utors. Such were Salman the Persian, to whom he may have owed the descrip- 
tions of Heaven and Hell, which arc analogous to those of the Zendavesta, nod 
the Christian monk Sergius, or as the Mnhammadans term him, Boheira. Rodwell , 
Preface to Koran, p. xvi. flee Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, art. JEWS, p. 28ft. 
The whole article is worth reading. 

3* In this connection it is important to consider the term fimnt?, one of the 
favourite epithets Muhammad gives himself in the Kuran. Later writers usually 
explained this term as meaning " illiterate " and connected it with the problem 
of Muhammad's ability to read and write. Umma conveys the meaning of "people." 
When the term is used in a religious sense it means community; in a profane 
sense it is ethnos and ummi is etfinikos. When Muhammad called himself ummi 
he meant thereby that he was the Arabian Prophet of the gentiles, speaking to 
the gentiles to whom no Apostle had ever been sent before. Wcnsirck, The Muslim 
Creed, p. 6 See Rodwoll's Koran, p. 881. footnotes 1 and 2 on flura vii. 156. 
Hee, however, * AH Tabari, The Book of Religion and Empire, (Tr. by A. Mingana), 
p. 54 f. Muhammad Ali (The Holy Quran, p. 901, footnote 950) says that the 
ummi prophet convovs any one of the following three significances, viz., (1) one 
who knows not reading or writing; (2) one from among the Arabs (among whom 
reading and writing were rare); and (3) one coming from Mecca (umm-ul-Qura, 
the Metropolis of Arabia). Sura xxix. 47 : " And Thou didst not recite any book 
(of revelation) before it : with that right hand of thine thon didst not transcribe 
one," is taken by Musalmans as conclusive evidence that Muhammad was illiter- 
ate before he received the Quranir revelation. " There is a difference of opinion, 
however, as to whether he could road or write after revelation.*' See Muhammart 
Ali, The Holy Quran, p. 862: Enc.'Br., Vol. 15, p. 64fl, 


those of the Qur'an * and boasted that even if men and jinn 
were to combine they could not produce a similar book, 36 but 
he began to believe also that he was " all the Apostle oi 
God," 37 " the seal of the prophets." a Two consequences 
followed from this position. The Jirst is that his advent was 
not unexpected, for earlier prophets had predicted his on- 
coming and even his name, 39 and he had come to give a fuller 
revelation of God's essence and attributes than the earlier pro- 
phets had done. Although in the Qur'an the references to 
such prophetic Biblical passages are meagre, the hint thrown 
out was seized upon with avidity by Muslim theologians and 
the Old and the New Testament were ransacked for findiug 
out appropriate prophecies regarding the future greatness 
oi Hie progeny of Ishmael and the advent and achievements of 

35 Sura xi. 1C>; 11. 21. See Noldeke, op. cit., p. 80. 

368iua xv a. ill, Muhammad Ah translates jinn as evil-disposed men (The 
Holy Quran, p. 671), footnote 1166); but only some Mu'taailjtcs Look the word in 
this sense. Sec ait. (JKNLJ in Hughes, Die. hi., p. 133 f, and Enc. /*/., 1, ait. 
DJ1NN, p. 1045. Soo al^o Westennarck, Pagan Survivals in Mohammedan 
Civilisation, pp. 12 f., 17. 

37 Sura vii. 157 i. See Wensmck, op. cit., p. 0, ou tho interpretation of this 

M Sura xxxui. 40 The seal of prophecy was a mole oi an unusual size on 
the Prophet's bask \\tuch, according to tho predictions of tho t^npturcs, marked 
him as the Seal ol the Prophets (see Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 
p. 567; Sir VV. Muir, The Life of Mohammad, p. 529). Tho following quotation 
from Mirza Ghulain Ahmad of Qadian, the founder of the Ahmadiyya 
Movement, who claimed to have combined in IIIH own person the functions of the 
Mahdi and the MoHPiah, is of interest here : " The chosen ones of God even now 
drink deep at tiie fountain of His inspiration and no one ever sot a seal upon the 
lips ol God. His giace even now flows in abundance and IB bestowed upon men 
ad it was bestowed of old. It is true that the revelation of a perfect Law and 
necessary rules, for the guidance ol mankind has put an eud to the need of a 
ircsh Law to bo revealed Jrom the Almighty, and apostleship and prophecy have 
attained their perfection in the holy person of our Ijord and Master (?), the Prophet 
Muhammad, may peace and the blessing* of God be upon him, but still an, access 
to the sacred fountain of inspnation is not thereby debarred. Teachings of Mam 
(1021), p. 78. 

39 Sura Ixi. G; u. 83 (KCC liodwell's notes). See Macdonald, Aspects of Islam, 
p. '225 f. It seems probabb, from the tiaditionn, that tho Prophet did not adopt 
tho name Muhammad till after the Flight, and that he was previously called 
Abd-Allah. Bodwell's Koran, p. 440 (footnote lo Ixi. 6). See however EKE. vii. 
87H. loiter theologians gave him 30, 300, or oven 1,000 nnineH.-- EllE. viii. 872. 
ail. MUHAMMAD. Muhanjincd Ali, Muhammad the Prophet, Cli. IV., gives 'he 
prophecies about the advent of Muhammad.* 


Muhammad. 40 The other is the claim put forward in the 
Qur'an that although the earlier prophets had taught mono- 
theism, their successors had allowed their true teachings to be 
forgotten or mixed up with undesirable ingredients and that, 
in conformity with later beliefs, the earlier scriptures too had 
been tampered with and corrupted. 41 Later Muslim theolo- 
gians believed also that many passages alluding to Muhammad 
had been deliberately expunged or altered or perversely inter- 
preted, when retained, to defeat his claim to be recognised as 
the Last Prophet. 42 Muhammad had perhaps hoped that by 
putting himself in the prophetic line of Moses and Christ, he 
would be able to win the support of the Jews and the Chris- 
tians, of whose prophets he always spoke with the greatest 
reverence. 43 His failure to win them over altered his entire 
attitude towards these communities, although a superstitious 
veneration for a revealed book was responsible for a more 
tolerant attitude towards them than towards people of other 
faiths. Possibly the nearness of the Day of Judgment which 
he preached in his earlier career was in the manner of the 
Jewish prophets, including Jesus, and the virtual abandonment 
of this idea of the imminence of Divine Judgment, or at least a 
catastrophe, was due either to his failure to convert the Jews 
and the Christians wholesale or to his acquisition of temporal 
power. 44 

See, e.g., The Book of Religion and Empire, by ' All Tabari (Tr. A. 
Mingana). See Mac don a I'd, Aspects of Islam, p. 234 f., p. 340. 

" Sura ii. 70-73, 169, 254; iv. 48; v. 16-18, 45. See Enc. I si., II, p. 1066; 
Macdonald, Aspects of Islam, La:t. VII, esp. pp. 219-22. 

*) History has a curious habit of repeating itself. " Tho Shi 'as in their 
hatred of ' Othman, their great aversion, assort that the original text has been 
gravely changed and even mutilated. The Kharijites exclude the 12th Rura, which 
they treat as a romantic story." Lammens, Islam : Beliefs and Institutions, p. 38. 
See Enc. Isl., H, pp. 1070-71; Sir William Muir, The Mohammedan Controversy 
and other articles, p. 150; Life of Mohammad, p. xxiii f . 

The Muhammadans bebeve that the faults in action - and knowledge 
of the prophe's to be found in the scriptures of other religions are partly duo no 
doubt to their human naturo but they are also partly due to fabrications of the 
Jews and Christians. See Al Bayan (Introduction to the Commentary on tlie 
Holy Qoran), p. 103, by M. A. M. Abdul Haqq. 

"Laminens, op. tit., p. 47. The doctrine of the future life was preached 
in the early days *s a warning of the approaching end of the world and the Day 


Muhammad 1 s conception of the function and power of 
ci prophet seems to have undergone considerable modification 
in course of his ministry. His original intention seems to 
have been to go back to the later Jewish conception of a 
prophet who is a messenger of God, no doubt, but who has 
no superhuman pretensions. His greatest objection to Chris- 
tianity was that it had deified Christ and Mary and reduced 
God to a third of three. 45 He vehemently denounced what 
he considered to be a tntheism and repeatedly urged that 
Christ was a man and an apostle of God like other prophets 
before him. While he was quite willing, therefore, to be- 
lieve that Christ was immaculately conceived, performed 
many miracles and even escaped the Cross (a likeness ol 
Jesus being really crucified), he systematically rejected the 
idea of the divine sonship of Jesus (as of E/ra) 46 although 
assigning to him a distinctive position among the prophets 
by calling him the Spirit of God or the Word which God con- 
veyed into Mary. 47 Conformably to this line of thought, 

of Judgment; yet he had afterwards to make the martyrs in his canoe enter 
paradise at once, atid his enemies enter hell immediately after death- a Belief not 
easily reconciled with the lormer. ERE. viu. H75, See Bell, op ctt., p. 201 f. 

*s Muhammad thought that the Christ Jan Trinity wan composed of God, 
Mary and Christ and that Gabriel was the Holy Ghost. See Sura v. 77-9, HC; 
iv. 169 It has been suggested that the mistake of Muhammad arose from the 
tact t.hat the word Rouali, the Holy Ghost, is of the feminine gender in some 
Oriental tongues and is figuratively styled the mother oi Christ in the gna|je! of 
the Nazarcnes. (See m this connection Choyno, Traditions and Beliefs of Anctcnt 
Israel, p. 20 f.) But, as Gibbon points out, " Iho Christians of the seventh century 
had msensiUy relapsed into a semblance of paganism : the public and piivate vows 
were addressed to the relus and images that disgraced the temples of the Kast : 
the throne of the Almighty was darkened by a cloud <rf raartjra, and saints, and 
angels, the objects of popular veneration ; and the Collyndian hereti , who flourished 
in the fruitful soil of Arabia, investedl the Virgin Mary with the name and honours 
of a goddess/ 1 Gibbon, op. cif., Ch. 1, Vol. IT, p. 4tf2 (with footnote). See EKE 
viii. 476. 

M Sura ix. 30. That the Jews regarded Ezra as a son of God is due to 
Muhammad's own invention. Kodwell's Koran, p. 524, f.n. 9. See also Gibbon, 
he. eif., p. 432 (with footnote). See also Sura ii. 2fil and c/. Neh. ii. 13. 

47 See Sura iii. 48. For t *o Christology of the Qur'aii, see Lammcnfi, 
,,p. fir., p. 60 f. and art. JESUS CHRIST in Hughes, Dictionary of Mam, 
p. 229 f. (esp. p. 233 where a Hadtth has been quoted). In his celestial journey, 
however. Muhammad saw Jetfus in one of the lower heavens. See Hughes, op. tit., 


Muhammad calls him a messenger and servant of Allah ami 
thinks that nothing prevented Allah from endowing, him 
(Muhammad) with the power of performing miracles except 
that these had been treated as lies by their contemporaries, 
when performed by earlier prophets. 48 The miracle on which 
he bases his prophetship 49 during this period is the miracle of 
the (jur'an ; but for this it is not necessary to suppose thai lie 
was anything more than a mere man. 60 In fact, a tradition 
records that his right of interceding with God accrued after 
Clod had forgiven his sins, both first and last. 51 

But another strain of thought soon crossed this line of 
thinking. Performance of miracles had come to be looked 
upon as a part of prophetic function and the Jews and Chris- 
tians could score an obvious victory over the Apostle of Islam 
by pointing to his incapacity in this respect. 62 Then, again, 
Christ had been regarded as sinless and he was believed to 

pp. 236, 361-52. See Wensmck, op. o*., pp. 243-44 (reappearance ol Jesus to 
slay tlio anti-Christ); MatxLonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 244 f; Sir W. Muir, Life 
of Mohammad, p. 143 f . 

The Ghass&niyas alone denied the apostleship of Jesus. See Wensmck, op. 
at., p. 114. Per contra see Ghazall who avowed that ' Christianity would be the 
absolute expression of truth were it not for its dogma of Trinity and its denial 
ot the divine mission of Muhammad ' (See Lammena, op. cit. t p. 121). 

*8 For the most part the old prophets only serve to introduce a little variety 
in point of form, for they are almost in every case facsimiled of Mohammed him- 
self. Ndldeke, Sketches from Eastern History, p. 29. 

*9 According to Islam miracles happen either to support Allah's Prophets 
in a visible way (wu djtza) or to signify Divine Grace towards the saint through 
\\hom they lake place (karama). See Wensmck, op. cit., pp. 224-26; also Mac;- 
(ionald, Rel. Ail. and Life in I si., p. 491. (discussing Ibn Khaldun's theory*: 
Ma'donald, Asp. of Isl., p. 231. Jtar the conception of miracles in Islam, flee 
Muhammad All, The lleligtoii of Islam, p. 2401. 

50 See Suras xvii. 92-7; xxix. 49; xiii. 27-30; xviii. 110. See Macdonald, 
Aspects of Islam, p. 282. See also Nicholson, Idea of Personality in Svfism, 
p. 58 : Both the Sutistic wall and the Shi'ite Imam are claimed to be " divine 
men, really one with God, whereas Mohammed, as described m the Koran, is no 
mo to than a man subject to human weaknesses, who receives at intervals the 
Divine revelations, not from God but from an angel." For the origin of the cult 
of saints in Islam, see Wester marck, Pag. Sur. in Moh. Civ., p. 94 f. 

Mishhat, Bk. XXIIT. Ch. XII, quoted by Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, 
p 233 (art. JESUS CHRIST). Cf. Sura xlviii. 2. 

5 * It is interesting to note that the Christian claim was tespoiiHible for tne 
introduction of the miraculous into Zoroastrianism also. Soc Dhalla, 
Theology, p. 195. 


have bodily ascended to heaven after his crucifixion. 53 The 
Qur'an does not contain the full reply to these, allegations of 
inferiority but it does contain the germs. Just as an obscure 
Vedic passage would often bo elaborated in the Pumnas, so 
also on the few stray and obscure passages of the Qur'an wore 
built up in the Traditional literature (Jiadith) many stories of 
Muhammad's achievements in the fields of prophecy and 
miracle. In the Qur'an itself there is reference to the split- 
ting of the moon (liv. 1-'2), 54 angelic help at the battle ol 
Badr (iii. 1'20) M and the night journey from Mecca to Jeru- 
salem (xvii. J). But the Traditionalists, obviously keeping 
in mind what miracles Jesus and other prophets had per- 
formed, ascribed similar uorks to Muhammad 56 and went one 
step further by supposing that, mounting on the mysterioiN 
Bnniq, he had ascended in the body, while awake, to heaven 
and conversed with God, thus excelling in a way the feat of 
Jesus: 57 they also enumerated the events, predicted by him, 
which took place either during his life-time or after hid 
death. 58 In a similar fashion the sinlessness of the prophets, 
at least after accepting their vocation, became a dogma in 

63 The Tahnudists mentioned nine (or thirteen) individuals who were tians- 
lated to heaven. --See Rodwcll's Koran, p. 1J5, n. 2. (Sura xix. 68). 

W See ItodweU'B Koran, p. 64, n. 1; Hughes, Die. of Isl. t pp. 860-51. 

This oo-urs in a Medinese Sura. See also another Medinese verse, Sura viii. 
1 7. See also xxxiii. 10. 

86 For a list see Hughes, Die. of Isl. t p. 361; 'Ali Tabari, op. 0it., p. 30 f. ; 
ERE. vii. 87ft. Muhammad's own belief was that " no apostle had oome with 
miraHeH unless by the leave o f God " (Sura xiii. 331. See Boll, op. nt. t n. 108 f; 
Margolionlli, Ear. Dev. Muh., p. GflOf; Gibbon, op. cit., II, pp. 436-37; Sir 
William Muir, Life of Mohammad, pp. xlvii, Iviii. For a severe critierfnni o' 1 
the miracle, a Bribed to Muhammad by the Traditional literature, see Sir William 
Mini, The Apology of Al ffftufy, pp. 63-02. For the assimilation of Muhammad 
to riin-st, see Guillaump, op. cit., p. 132 f. 

57 Sumo commentators mako it a vision UH indicated in Rura xvii. 02. But 
the orthodox creed demands a belief in the reality of the night ionrney and the 
ascension. See Macdonald. Development of Muslim Thcoloqy, p. 208 (Appendix 
1-A Short Creed by Al-Ash'an); also p 313. Fee Muhammad Ali, The Holit 
Quran, p. 672, footnote 1441. A full treatment of the subject in to be found in 
J. C. Archer, Mystical Elements in Mohammed, pp. 44-66 : he calls it " a mysti- 
experience, a breaking through into the unseen world, a snatching away in the 
spirit, and withal, a conviction " (p. 49). See Enc. lsl. t II, p. 663, art. ISBI' 

N 'Ali Tabari, op. tit., p. 37 f. 


later Muslim belief although earlier accounts were en- 
tirely different and even in canonical hadith " Muham- 
mad's unpeccability is never mentioned, f>S9 not to talk of Ins 
freedom from polytheism at all times. 60 The whole belief 
was evidently modelled on Christianity and gave rise to the 
tradition that the heart of Muhammad was taken out by two 
angels and washed clean with snow of all sinful elements in 
order to qualify him for his unique relationship to divine rt 
velation. 61 

The last stage is represented by Muhammad's belief that 
not only was he a prophet after the manner of earlier prophets 
hut also an Apostle destined to be the last one. - He no longer 
believes that " to its own book shall every nation be sum- 
moned " 6Z on the Day of Judgment and that salvation was 
not of the Muslims- only but also of the Jews, the Christians, 
and the Sabeites. 63 No di'ilbnsoce is made between the pro- 
phets of old so as to give any pre-emrjsance to the followers of 
Moses and Jesus, and all people are expected to v receive Islam 
as an indispensable complement to their faith in order to be 
saved. 64 " This day have I perfected your religion for you and 
have completed my favours and blessings upon you, and I 
have been pleased by making Islam your religion/' 65 The 

B ERE. zi. 568, art. SIN (Muslim). Wensinck, op. cit., p. 218. 

M Soe Wensinck, op. cit., p. 192. It has been pointed oat that one of the 
sons of Muhammad bore the pagan name 'Abd Manaf. '* Sprenger has conjectured 
that ' Abd Allah, Tahir. al-Tayib and other epithets were later substituted for 
the name ' Abd Manaf." Wensinck, op. cit., pp. 240, 242. 

Margoliouth, Ear. Dev. Muh. t p. 248. Gabriel is also credited with the 
same function. See M. All's Holy Quran, p. 1201, note 2761. Also Archer, 
Mystical Elements in Mohammed, p. 41 f, for versions and interpretations. 

a Sura xlv. 27. Cf. 2 Tim. 3.16 : " All scripture inspired of God is profitab'c 
lor teaching, for reproof, for amendment, and for moral discipline, to make the 
man of God proficient and equip him with good work of every kind." See Bell, 
op. cit., p. 124. 

See Bodwell's Koran, p. 373, n. 2 to Sura ii. 59; v. 73. 

M Sura ii. 130, 280 (thus abrogating or contradicting ii. 264 and some verses 
in xix aud xvii. 57); iv. 151. See Wensinck, op. cit., p. 113. For the development 
of the idea that; Islam is the only true religion, see Sir William Muir, Life if 
Mohammad, pp. 150-54; also T. W. Arnold, The Preaching of Islam, p. 8f. 

Sura v. 5. See Muhammad All, The Religion of Mam, p. 90S f. 


revelation ' Let there be no compulsion in religion f66 was 
never intended to be applied to the idolaters of Arabia (or to 
apostates), 67 either in theory or in practice, for iconoclasm 
(and extreme punishment of infidels and apostates) was a reli- 
gious duty with Islam ; to the people possessing a ' scrip- 
turary ' religion, toleration was conceded in theory but often 
administered with galling severity in practice. 68 To quote 
Margoliouth, 69 " The ultimate system adopted was to per- 
mit the existence of communities which professed to follow 
a revealed book, but to disarm them and make them tribu- 
tary; this condition is identified by some purists with that of 
slaves. The existence of communities to which this descrip- 
tion did not apply was forbidden." 70 Possibly the older 
view, ' The Qur'an in one hand and sword in the other ' as 
the method of Muhammadan conversion, requires a little 
modification to-day, but there can be no doubt that at times 
and in places the victorious armies of Islam did follow this 
fanatical procedure in times of war, 71 remembering that 
41 only the faithful are brethren, 1 ' 72 and that, in times of 

Sura 11. 257. See ui. 19. See The Apology of Al Kindy, p. 98. 

tf A well-authenticated tradition ascribes to Muhammad the saying " T am 
ordered to make \var on people till thy say : There is no God but Allah. 1 ' See 
Wensinck, op. ctfc., pp. 13, 19. See also Sura xvi. 108. 

68 See The Apolotjy of Al Kindy, p. 97. See Margoliouth, Ear. Dev. Muh.. 
p. 104 f. The toleration did not extend to Arab Jews or Christians (p. 105). 
See pp. 118 f., 132; also Sir William Muir, Life of Mohammad, p. 454. 

6* ERE. vin. 877. See Hughes, Die. IsL, p. 243 f., art. JIHAD (The whole 
article is illuminating as regards the war ethics of tho Muslims). Jihad wa 
regarded as the sixth pillar of Islam by the Kharijites. See Lammens, op. cit., 
p. 62. See OuiUaume, Traditions of Islam (1924), p. 110 f., on Jihad; Enc. IsL, I. 
r . 1041. 

W Margoliouth admits, however, that "exemption from military service and 
from the burdensome ceremonies of Islam aided the tolerated communities in a 
variety of ways, and counteracted some of the effects of humiliation and oppres- 
sion." Early Development of Muhvmmadanism, pp. 100-01. See T. W. Arnold, 
op. ctt., pp. 59-6*2. 

n In The Apology of Al Kindy (tr. Sir William Muir), p. 61', occnra, for 
instance, the following sentence : " Instead of miracles, the claim of thy Master 
was enforced simply by the sword." (See also pp. 96, 100.) See art. PERSECU- 
TION (Muhammadan) in ERE. ix. 607; also the saying of Muhammad, quoted in 
Sir W. Muir, Life of Mohammad, p. 448 : " There shall not cease from the midst 
of my people a party engaged in fighting for the truth, until Anti-christ appear." 
See T. W. Arnold, op. it. v pp. 69, 75 and 57 (the ordinance of Umar). 
xlix. 10. 



peace, they heaped such indignities, inconveniences and in- 
securities on the adherents of other faiths that the civil and 
moral coercion amounted almost to a forcible conversion. 
When Muhammad conceived Islam to be destined for 
the whole world as " an admonition to all created 
beings," 73 he could not obviously regard himself as 
no better than his predecessors nor could he concede that 
each nation was to have its own prophet. 74 He claimed that 
he had been sent as ' ' mercy unto all creatures ' ' and that to 
him belonged the unique distinction of closing the prophetic 
line altogether : henceforth salvation was of the Muslims 
only 7S and the Qur'an was the uncreated word of God much 
as the Logos was in Christianity. He thereby negated in 
practice, in so far as it related to the future, his own revela- 
tion : " To each age its Book. What He pleaseth doth God 
abrogate or confirm : for with Him is the source of revela- 
tion." 76 

To this stage belongs the famous declaration of Muslim 
faith (shahada) : " There is no God but Allah and Muham- 
mad is the Apostle of Allah." The Jews had preached that 

73 See Suras xxxviii, 87 f; xxxvi. 69 f; xxi. 107; xxv. 1. 

The doctrine of predestination compels the Muslims to believe, however, 
that even in the remotest future the distinction between Muslims and non -Muslim* 
will persist. How else would this verse be fulfilled? : * Moreover had thy Lord 
pleased, He had assuredly made mankind of one religion : but those/ only to whom 
thy Lord hath granted his mercy will cease to differ. And unto this bath He 
created them; for the word of thy Lord shall be fulfilled, "I will assuredly fill 
hell with Djinn and men together " ' (Sura xi. 120). 

74 See Wensinck, op. cit. pp. 5-6; T. W. Arnold, op. tit., pp. 28-31; Muham- 
mad Ali f The Religion of Islam, p. 258 f. 

76 Thus in Sura vii. 155-66, God speaks to Moses in the following way : 
4 I will inflict my chastisement on whom I will, and my mercy embraceth all things, 
and I write it down for those who fear Me, and pay the alms, and believe in 
our signs, who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet whom they find des- 
cribed with them in the Law and Evangel. What U right will he enjoin them, 
and forbid them what is wrong, and will allow them healthful viands, and 
prohibit the impure, and will ease them of their bmden, arid of the yokes which 
were upon them; and those who believe in him, and strengthen him, and help 
him, and follow the light whirh hath been Bent down with him, these are 
they with whom it shall be well." (Cf. Christ's saying: " For my yoke _ is easy, 
and my burden is light.**) 

76 Sura xiii. 38-99. Md. AH translates the verses in a different way and 
with u different meaning (see Holy Quran, p. 508), 


fahweh was one Yahweh and Israel was his prophet and the 
Christians had substituted for the prophetship of the trihe 
the individual and unique prophetship of Jesus. In the 
Islamic formula of faith, while the first or negative 
half was directed against polytheism of all kinds, the second 
or positive half was directed against other monotheisms. It 
is not enough to believe that God is one; it is also necessary 
to believe in the revelation of God through Muhammad. 77 
No longer does he say that he is a mere warner or that he is 
like one of the Apostles that had gone before or that he came 
to confirm their messages. 78 He now claims to have come ns 
the special Apostle of the Meccans to preach God f s message 
in the form of an Arabic Qur'an, and it is not open to them to 
place him alongside the prophets of other people. 79 He is 
the last and the best of the Apostles and the Qur'an is an in- 
fallible guide. Muslims are forbidden henceforth to scan the 
Qur'an too scrutinisingly and to find out that certain state- 
ments there contradict Biblical accounts that, for instance, 
Moses' (and Aaron's) sister and Jesus' mother are not identi- 
cal, that Christ did not escape the Cross, 80 that Baptism was 
not a dyeing of the Christians' clothes, that no table was 
sent out of heaven that it might be a recurring festival (the 

77 Of. Sura Mi. 28 : " ye who believe I fear God and believe in his 
Apostle : two portions of his mercy will He give you." 

78 See Sura ii. 114 : " But until tbou follow their religion, neither the JextA 
nor the Christians will ever be satisfied with thee. Say : verily, guidance of God, 
that is the guidance ! And if after ' the knowledge ' which hath reached thee, 
thoii follow their desires, thou shalt find from God neither helper nor protector. 
They to whom we have given the book, and who read it as it ought to be read,- 
these believe therein : but whoso believeth noi therein, these are they who shall 
bo the loners." See Lammens, op. cif., p. 50. 

79 See Wensinck, op. ctt., pp. 20B-03. 

so On the Quranic view that Christ did not die on the Crows is based the 
following belief of Mirzft Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the founder of the Ahmadlya 
Movement : " Jesus did not die on the cross, but was taken down by his disciples 
in a swoon, and healed within forty days by a miraculous ointment called, in 
Persian, MarhAm-i-'lsa. He then travelled to the East on a mission to the ten 
lost tribes of the children of Israel, believed by Ahmad to be the peoples of 
Afghanistan and Kashmir, and finally died at the age of 120, and was buried in 
Khan Yar Street, in Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir." (H. A. Walter, The 
ihmadiya Movement, p. 90). For similar belief in Christian sec IB, see Bell, op. 
oit., p. 164. 



Eucharist) to the Christians 81 and that for certain other 

stcitements the authority is not the Bible but the Talmudic 

literature and certain Christian heresies. 82 The faithful are 

to learn their Biblical history from the Qur'an which is the 

revealed word of God : 83 any discrepancy between it and the 

Bible is to be set down to the loss of tradition among the 

Jews or to parts of the Bible being composed by secular hands. 84 

For the message of salvation that he brought Muhammad 

could claim that for all times to come peace should be invoked 

on him personally whenever his name is uttered and Divine 

mercy invoked on him and his descendants in the daily prayers 

of the faithful M in addition to the acknowledgment of his 


How far Muhammad conceived his message to be uni- 
versal is difficult to ascertain. He thought as a Semite and 

Hughes, Die. I*L, p. 54, art. CHRISTIANITY, and p. 110, art. 
EUCHARIST. A critical revision would have cut out the most glaring anachron- 
isms : the confusion between the two Marys (19, 22), between Haman, minister 
of King Ahasueros, and the minister of Moses' Pharaoh (Qoran 28. 5-7, 38; 40. 
38); the fusion, into one of the legends of Gideon, Saul, David and Goliath (2, 
260, etc.) ; the story of the Samaritan (sic) who is alleged to have made the Jews 
worship the golden calf (20, 87, etc), Lammens, op. ctt., p. 39. See, however, 
Mohammad All, The Holy Quran, p. 117, footnote 331. See Hughes, Die. Isl., 
art. 'IMRAN; also Enc. M. t IT, pp. 475-76. 

w Muhammad's justification for treating the Jewish written and unwritten 
laws on the same level is that the Jews themselves believed that thoy had both been 
revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Musalmans followed the Jews in this 
respect and treated the traditions of the Prophet as equally binding on the faithful 
with the Quranic revelations. 

8 " Whatever Allah quotes in the Koran from Moses or other Prophets, 
from Pharaoh or from Satan, is the speech of Allah in relation to theirs. The 
speech of Allah is uncreated, but the speech of Moses and other creatures JR 
created." Art. 3 of The Fikh Akbar II (Wensinck, op. cit., p. 189). See Sura 
zcviii. 8-3. 

M See Khwa;a Kamaluddin, Islam and Zoroastrianitm, p. 170 f ; Margoliouth, 
Ear. Dev. Aftifc., pp. 53, 64, 232 f; Muhammad Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 211 f. 
The number of sacred books delivered to mankind is said to have been 104; 
of these ten were given to Adam, fifty to Seth (a name not mentioned in the Qur'an), 
thirty to Enoch, ten to Abraham, the Taurat to Moses, the Zabur to David, the 
Injil to Jesus, and the Qur'an to Muhammad. The one hundred scriptures given 
to Adam, Seth, Enoch, and Abraham are termed $Mfah (a pamphlet), and the 
other four Kit&b (a book); but all that is necessary for the Muslim to know of 
the** inspired records is supposed to have been retained in the Qur'an. Hughes, 
Die. 1st., art. PROPHETS, p. 475. 

K These form part of the Tahiya and the Tashahhud in the Sal at (aamaz or 
daily prayer). See Hughes, Die. /*/., art. PRAYER, p. 468. See 'Ali Tabaii 


regarded himself as confirming the message of Biblical pro- 
phets and a few others whose identity cannot be definitely 
established now. 86 He was the divinely chosen prophet of 
the Arabs and at one time accepted the position 
that other nations had their own prophets by whose 
revelations they would be judged on the Day of 
Judgment. He undertook to rid Arabia of its idolatry 
and polytheism, and he conceded that on the Day of 
Judgment other Apostles would similarly act as witnesses in 
respect of their own people. Tradition, however, ascribes iu 
him a number of letters written to contemporary potentates 
the Emperor at Byzantium, the King of Persia, the Negus 
of Abyssinia and the Governor of Egypt and inviting them 
to embrace Islam, if their authenticity can be established 
Wensinck thinks they are " of a doubtful authority, if indeed 
they are not wholly legendary," 87 they will prove that 

(op. ctt., p. 40) who connects this with Sura xciv. 1-4. (For Jewish and Christian 
influence on Muslim prayer, see Bell, op. at., pp. 142-43.) 

8* The names of 2s prophets are said to occur in the Qur'an, hut there is 
doubt about two (Aesop and Alexander the Gicat). Muhammad is related to have 
said that there were 124,000 prophets ond 315 (313?) apostles. Nine of the apostles 
or messsngere Noah, Abraham, David, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moaes, Jesus and 
Muhammad are called " possessors of constancy/ 1 and six Adam, Noah, Abraham, 
Moses, Jesus and Muhammad are dignified wi'h special titles (Muhammad being 
called Kasulu'llah, the Messenger of God). See Hughes, Die. IsL, p. 475. See 
Wensinck, op. cif., pp. 202-04, 267. Post-canonical Tradition shows a perpetual 
tendency to enlarge the number of Prophets as well as that of Apostles. Ihe 
latter do not exceed the number of 315, whereas that of the Prophets varies between 
1,000 and 224,000. Wensinck, op. cit., p. 204. In the Kuran a difference is made 
between the Apostle and the Prophet, in so far as the former is representative 
of a community or people (umma) to which God has sent him. . The Kuramc 
series of Apostles comprises Null (Noah), Lut (Lot), Ismail, Musa, Shu'aib 
(Jethro), Hud, Salih and 'Tsa (Jesus). The number of Prophets mentioned in 
the Kuran is larger. . . They are not sent ea-h to a different people but they walk 
in the footsteps of the Apostles, their pralcresHors. Consequently, according to 
the doctrine of the Kuran, every Apostle is as sirh also a Prophet; but not evrry 
Prophet is at the same time an Apostle. This is also the view of early 
Christianity. -Wensinck, op. ctt., p. 204. See also Sura ii. 254 : " Borne of the 
apostles Wo have endowed more highly than others." See also fiuraa ii. 137; 
vii. 6; also Wensinck, op. ctt., pp. 177, 203. 

tfWensinck, op. ctt., pp. 7-8. But see Ency. Bri. 9 Vol. 15, art. 
MOHAMMED. See Sir W. Muir, Life of Mohammad, Ch. XX; T. W. Arnold, 
op. 0tt., p. SW. 


Muhammad intended to carry out in practice the Divine in- 
junction, " We have not sent thee otherwise than to man- 
kind at large, to announce and to warn." 88 We now see the 
full significance of the shahada. Muhammad wished to 
steer clear of the weakness of Judaism which did not give to 
prophets a place in the creed on account of its strict mono- 
theism, and of Christianity which elevated the prophet to 
such a divine height that monotheism itself was in danger. 
The shahada preserved both Jewish monotheism and Chris- 
tian emphasis on the importance of the prophet. 

Matters became complicated when the Apostle was 

conceived to combine in himself the functions of a 

warner on earth and a witness and an intercessor 

before God, the traditional literature going as usual 

beyond the Quranic position. There is every reason 

to think that while in its theory of God Mu ham - 

madanism went back to Judaism, in its theory of Prophet it 

absorbed more and more Christian ideas. It is difficult to 

see how if God had predetermined certain souls for salvation 

and others for hell-fire, intercession could be of any avail; 89 

but in Muhammadanism, as in other ? eligions, the logic of 

the heart was allowed to overthrow theological consistency 

MRnra xxxiv. 27. See also xxi. 107; v. 5 (See M. A. Akin, Islam and 
Chnshantt?!, Oh. V; T. W. Arnold, op. cit., pp. 4-6.) 

* The Wahhabis distinguish three types of in'ercession of which one only 
ia applicable to Muhammad's intercession with Allah. First, there is " the inter- 
cession from regard " (Stiafa'at-i-Wajahah) as wheu a king pardons a criminal 
on the intercession of the vizier whoso position merits consideration of a equest 
from him. Soxindly, there is " the intercession from affection " (8kafd'*f4- 
makabbah) as when a king pardons a criminal on the intercession of tho queen 
or the princes whom he loves. But to suppose that God would pardon a sinner 
out of regard or affection for any individual is a Shirku'l-tasarruf, ascribing power 
to others than God. The true interpretation of intercession is that a king may 
himself wish to pardon the criminal but fears that the majesty of the law would 
thereby be lowered. At this point the vizier (or the queen or o prince) intercedes 
with the tacit consent of the king. This is " the intercession by permission " 
(tihafa'at-i-ba'izri) and Muhammad will have this power with God. The Wahhabis 
hold that Muhammad does not have this power now but will possess it at the 
Day of Judgment; but all o'her Musalrnfuis believe that he has it now. See 
Hughes, Die. /{., art. SHTBK, pp. 579-80. See also Eric. I si, IV, p. 878 f. 
(esp. p. 880). 


and the orthodox community finally accepted the intercessory 
power of the Prophet as a part of the creed. 50 The most 
intractable passage is Sura ii. 45 : " Fear a day in which a 
soul shall not avail for a soul at all, nor shall any intercession 
be accepted from them, nor shall any ransom be taken, nor 
tiny help be given them." a while Sura xxxix. 45 lays down 
that intercession is wholly with God. But possibly here too 
Muhammad had to bow down to a tribal superstition. The 
Meccans evidently believed that lower gods could intercede 
with Allah n and at a moment of weakness Muhammad too 
had conceded that of Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and Al-Manat, the 
three exalted female deities, intercession might be expected 
a statement which he later on ascribed to Satanic suggestion 
and withdrew. 93 Apparently he felt that a substitute was 
wanted but that the supreme authority of AlLah must at the 
same time be maintained. The Qur;'an nowhere mentions 
explicitly that Muhammad will act as an intercessor, but 
Muharamadan theologians have professed to find a justifica- 
tion for their belief in his advocacy in Sura xvii. 82 : " It 
may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a g'orious station," 94 
and in Sura xciii. 5 : " And thy Lord shall assuredly be 
bounteous to thee and thou be satisfied." The Mu'tazilites 
felt justified in rejecting the doctrine of intercession as being 
contrary to the main teaching of the Qur'an (and also because 
it seriously affected the question of Divine justice for volun- 
tary sin) and taught that no deliverance of one who had en- 
tered Hell was possible; 95 but, possibly under Christian in- 

*0 See WasTyat AbT HanTfa, art. 25, and Fikh Akbar IT, art. 20, in Wensinck, 
op. tit., pp. 130, 194 (also pp. 180 f and 61 f)- 

"See also Ixxiv. 49; Ixxxii. 19. 

W Surau x. 19; xliii. 86. 

"Sura liii. 19-20. See Rodwell's Koran, p. 56, footnote 6; Sir William 
Mnir, Life of Mohammad, p. 81 f. 

M In Rodwell's Koran this is xvii. 82. The uncertainty of interpretation 
JH brought out by the fact that this identical passage is recited during Ihe Azftn 
(call to public prayer) by religions Muslims as a prayer to God that He might 
grant the Maqam Maljmud to the Prophet. flee Hughe*, Die. I si., p. 3i8, art. 

See also Wensinck, op. etf., p. 181. 

*8ee Wensinck, op. eft., p. 61. 


fluence, orthodoxy veered round to the view that Muhammad 
was " a living intercessor at the throne of God." 9 * Obviously 
this intercession, consistently with the general tenor of 
Quranic teaching on the subject, must be permitted by 
Allah, 97 and this permission is granted either to pure beings 
like the angels (Suras xl. 7 ; xlii. 3 ; xxi. 28-29) or to those who 
bear witness to the truth (Sura xliii. 86) 98 and whose words are 
approved by God (Sura xx. 108) ; and again such intercession 
is permissible only in respect of those who have entered into 
covenant with the God of Mercy (Sura xix. 90). " The final 
opinion of Muslim orthodoxy is that Muhammad intercedes 
for those who have committed great sins 100 and the right of 
intercession extends also to angels, prophets, the learned and 
the martyrs. 101 To quote Wensinck : " In early Christian 
literature we find the angels, the patriarchs, the Prophets, the 
Apostles and the Martyrs as those who will intercede on 
behalf of sinners. The same classes of men are the holders 
of the privilege of intercession in Islam." 102 The superiority 
of Muhammad is established by the fact that when on the 
Day of Judgment the Faithful will approach other prophets 
for intercession they will all excuse themselves but Muham- 
mad will, with the permission of Allah, " rescue from Hell 
;ill tiiosr in \\lnw lionrt a rain of faith has persisted/' 105 

'* The XVabl-abu state that the intercession of their prophet will only be 
h* the porin.-sion (/:n) of God at the last day, and that there is no intercession 
foi sins until the Day of Judgment. Tin- teaching of the Qur'an and the Tradi- 
tions seems to be m favour of this view. -Hughes, Die. of 1*1. 9 p. 214, art. 

9t Suras 11. 256; x. 3; xx. 108; xxxiv. 22; Ixxviii. 88. 

98 Muhammadan commentators include here Jesus and Ezra. See RodwelTa 
Koran, p. 136, n.l. 

There could be no intercession for infidels (Sura ix. 114). See Wensinck, 
op. cifc., pp. 183, 239. 

100 See Wensinck, op. cit., p. 182 f. The Mu'tezilites say that Muhammad's 
intercession is not for the prevention of punishment but for the increase of 
ment.-See Hughes, Die. Isl., art. INTERCESSION, p. 215. 

101 Hughes, Die. /*/., p. 215. 

i Wensinck, op. cit., pp. 180, 182. Even Allah Himself is supposed to 
intercede (p. 182). 

103 Wensinck, op. cit., p. 182. The traditions are not definite about the pla^e 
where the intercession would be made it might be either at the bridge (over 


Apparently here was something to match Jesus' descent into 
Hell to release its inmates. The last transformation in this 
line of thought is the doctrine of the Light of Muhammad 104 
which is supposed to have existed before all creation, being 
the first thing to he created by God, and to have given rise to 
all other things, including the heavens, the paradises and 
hells, the throne of God, the angels, and the mind. The 
assimilation with the pre-existent Messiah of the Christians 
is almost complete in this conception, the only distinction 
being that whereas Christ was regarded as co-eternal with God 
and was himself invested with the creative function, the light 
of Muhammad is a thing created from the light of God 105 and 
only furnishes the material of subsequent creation. Similar 
to this type of thought is the belief that " the Prophet's call 
was at least coeval with the creation of Adam," that he was 
appointed to tho prophetic office when Adam was only half 

which all souls have to pass after death) or at <the balance (where merits are weighed) 
or at the basin (the pond of abundance). Ibid, p. 169. (Another tradition substitutes 
the reading of the book for the pond of abundance.) 

104 The following description from Hughes, Die. Isl., art. AL-HAQIQATI7 
L.MU9AMMADIYAH, p. 162, will suffice: 

The Prophet said, " The first thing created wns the light of your Prop'iet, 
which was created from the light of God. This light of mine roamed about wherever 
God willed, and when the Almighty resolved to make the world, he divided this 
light of Muhammad into four portions; from the first he created the Pen (qalam); 
from the second the Tablet (laul}); from the third, the highest heaven aud <he 
throne of God (' arsh) ; the fourth portion was divided into four sections : fxoni 
the first were created the Hamalatu'l-'Arsh, or the eight angels who support the 
throne of God; from the second, the kursi, or lower throne of God; from the 
third, the angels; and the fourth, being divided into four subdiviVons, from it 
were created (1) the firmaments or seven heavens, (2) the earth, (3) the seven 
paradises and seven hells, (4) and again from a fourth section were created (1) 
the light of the eyes, (2) the light of the mind, (3) the light of the love of the 
Unity of God, (4) the remaining portion of creation." See also The Legacy of 
Islam, p. 225; Nicholson, Idea of Per. in Sufsm, pp. 68-60; Sir William Muii, 
The Mohammedan Controversy and other articles, pp. 77-79. 

* Cf. The Nicene Creed : ' Light of light. 1 

JUT considers the created Bun or the archetypal Spirit of Mohammed as 
a mode of the uncreated Holy Divine Spirit and as the medium through whioh 
God becomes conscious of Himself in creation." Nicholson, Studies in l*L Miff., 
p 110 (Bee also Idea of Personality in Sufism, p 46). 



created. 106 The conception of the Mahdi or the 
who, according to Muslim tradition, will appear in the last 
days to " fill the earth with equity and justice " and to 
" give strength and stability to Islam," has obvious analogy 
with the Christian belief about the sending of the Comforter 
and the second advent of Christ and was apparently prompted 
by the latter, only that the orthodox believe that both the 
Mahdi and the Messiah (Jesus) 108 would come to "fill the whole 
world with the knowledge of God." It is not impossible tl-nt 
both in Christianity and in Tsliini the idea of a last prophet 
was connected with the belief in the imminence of the Dny 
of Judgment and that in both a change in that belief led to 
the idea of a return of the Prophet during the last days. 

We may now return from this digression about the nature 
and function of Muhammad as the Prophet of God to a consi- 
deration of the nature of God as revealed in the Qur'an. As is 
to be expected, the hostility of Muhammad to all sorts of 
polytheism made him disown not only his country's gods but 
also the Christian trinity and go back to the awful majesty 
of the Jewish unitary God. 109 The use he made of Allah was 

106 Margoliouth Ear. Dev. Muh., pp. 242, 248. Tn a tradition Allah is made 
to declare : " Had it not been for thee, I had not created the worlds.'*- M.iedonald, 
Religious Attitude and Life in Islam, p. 10. Tn his Mishlrat, al Anwar Ghazali 
introduces a being railed hy him al-Mnt'a, " the Obeyed One," which Nicholson 
interprets as " the archetypal Spirit of Muhammad, the Heavenly Man create 1 in 
the ima^e of God and regarded as si Cosmic Power on whom depends Hie order 
and preservation of the universe." Tf Nicholson's interpretation is ivnrrect. 
11 Ghazali believed that while God in His essence is ICDOWII only to those who 
have realised His unity in the all-consuming mystical experience, His will and 
providence are manifested in the world through the idea embodied, as it vere, 
in the person of Muhammad " (Idea of Per. in Sups, pp. 46-47). See also p. 63. 

107 See art. AL-MAHDT in Hughes. Die. I*/., "p. 305; THE MAHDT in M. 
Cannay, Enc. of Rel., p. 228; WenshHc, op. ctt., pp. 243-44. About the conflict of 
opinions regarding the appearance of tin* MuhdT, see Gnillamne, The Trad'hons o/ 
Islam, pp. 91-93. 

108 The founder of the AhmodTyn movement (Mir/a Ghulam Ahmadl claimed 
to have combined in himself the functions of both. --See A. Walter, The Anwtidlya 
Movement, p. 25 f. For the ingenious way in which Muslim to aditionaHsts re 
conciled Muhammad being the la^t Prophet and the Messiah descending on the 
last days and adding to the lawful, see Gnillaume, The Traditions of Islam, 
pp. 72-73. For a contrary view about the advent of Jesus, ibid, pp. 157-58. See ilao 
Muhammad AU, The Religion of Islam, p. 060 f. 

HN Between God and man there is no direct and regular communication. 
Every effort to lessen the distance which separates them appears tainted h* 


similar to what the Jews made of Yahweh, for like unto 
Moses, God dictates to Muhammad through Gabriel (Jibril) 
a whole body of social laws in addition to religious prescrip- 
tions and ethical principles. As has been well said : " The 
Koran is the general code, social, civil, commercial, military, 
judicial, criminal, penal and yet religious. 11110 As social re- 
gulations presuppose the existence of a community of Ihe 
faithful, these came naturally as revelations in Medina; but 
broad principles of religion and ethics lie scattered in the 
Meccan Suras and can be found in a convenient summary in 
Sura xiii (Thunder). Two seeminglv contradictory vic\\s 
of God appear in the Qur'an. There is, first, the idea, fami- 
liar to us from later Kabbinical literature, that an adequate 
comprehension of the nature of God is beyond the capacity 
of man, for God is unlike everything that we have experience 
of in this world. The general tendency of the Qur'an is to 
prevent the assimilation of God to worldly things : Muharn- 
uiad knew too \\ell the dangerous tendency of the human 
mind to rely upon the things of the world in religious devo- 
tion. Material objects and heavenly bodies, forces and phe- 
nomena of nature, holy persons and abstractions of thought 
were being worshipped all around either in pagan or in scrip- 
turary religions, and the Jews and Christians were twisting the 
father-flood of God (so he thought) into a physical relation- 
ship. 111 So, to guard against lapses into idolatry and poly- 
theism, it was necessary to make it clear that God was far 

' thirk,' a move in the direction of polytheism. The aoiil, in its- struggle to gain 
salvation, cannot rely on the aid of any intermediary. In the most idealised 
portraits of the Sira and tho hadlth Muhammad IH never nhown except ns the 
instrument of revelation. Even then ho did not, receive tho liust direct, but 
through the miniHtiations of an angel. LUIIIIIKMIK, o/>. nl., pp. 11.3-1-1. See Ma-- 
donald, Rel. Att. and Life, in /V/UMI, p. 38. 

"UKhvva.ia Kamahiddin, The Threshold of Truth, p. 1*27 (quoting Dcvonport). 

in The attitude of the Muliaimnadans towards the idea of God as Father 
may be gathered from the following typical quotation : " We must realise, if we are 
really advanced, that our relation to Ood IB unique. Tt is neither like the relation 
o' n son to his lather nor like anything in the world. . . We must fear, love and 
respect Him at the same tune. . . Is the woid " Father " indicative of this 
attitude of man toward* God? Is it not using too familiar a word?... As :i 
matter of fact, to apply to the Deity terms indicative of human relationship is 


removed from all worldly objects in quality and that there 
was nothing like unto Him. 112 This could lead to only t^o 
conclusions, namely, that Allah was absolutely indefinite and 
that He could be described only negatively. A third conclu- 
sion is also possible, namely, that Allah is absolutely incom- 
prehensible and unknowable; but that tendency was checked 
by the consideration that in that case doubt would be cast on 
the existence of Allah a position which the Qur'an could 
never be expected to countenance. But the other two ten- 
dencies became evident in " the doctrines of tanzlh (removal) 
and mukhalafa (difference), i.e., the removal from Allah of 
all qualities of impermanence, and assertion of the essential 
difference of his qualities and the similarly named qualities 
of human beings," 113 and also in the Mu'tazilite idea of God 
which practically consists of a string of negations. The fol- 
lowing quotation from al-Ash'ari describes the Mu'tazilite 
position: 114 " Allah is one, without equal, hearing, seeing: 
He is no body, nor object, nor volume, nor form, nor flesh, 
nor blood, nor person, nor substance, nor accidens, nor pro- 
vided with colour, taste, smell, touch, heat, cold, moistness, 
dryness, length, breadth, depth, union, distinction, movement, 
rest or partition. Neither is He provided with parts, divisions, 
limbs, members, with directions, with right or left hand, be- 
fore or behind, above or beneath. No place encompasses 
Him, no time passes by Him. The ideas of intercourse, 
withdrawal and incarnation cannot be applied to Him. He 

clearly obnoxious to those religiously most advanced. For this reason we cannot 
properly call God Father, Mother or anything indicative of human relationship. 
He is no relation of ours. He is unique and we must bear this in mind. To 
establish relationship with God is to tamper with His uniqueness." Muhammad 
Amir Alam, Islam and Christianity (1923), pp. 153-54. See, however, Macdonald, 
Rel. Alt. and Life in Islam, p. 30. The Muhammadan religion does not permit 
the ascription to Allah of any name which is not tauqifi, that is, authorised in 
some revelation Quran or tradition. " Father " is not one of the names used 
by Muhammad and is not included in the list of the ninety-nine names of Allah. 
(See ERE. vi. 299; Hughes, Dtc. 7*7., pp. 141-42; Lammons, op. cit., p. 113; 
Macdonald, Rel. Alt. and Life in Islam, p. 211). 

1W Suras cxii. 4; xlii. 9; xxii. 73; xvi. 76. (Gf. Ex. xx. 4.) 

us Enc. 1*1., p. 305. 

u * Quoted by Wensinck, op. cit., p. 73. For the Mu'tazilite articles of 
belief, ibid, p. 58 f. The whole of Gh. IV is worth reading. 


cannot be described by any description which can be applied 
to creatures, in so far as they are created, neither can it be 
said that He is finite. He cannot be described by measure, 
nor by movement in a direction. He is not definite; neither 
begetting nor begotten; measures do not encompass Him, 
nor do curtains veil Him. The senses do not reach Him, nor 
can man describe Him by any analogy. He does not resem- 
ble the creatures in any way. Neither accident nor detriment 
can touch Him. Nothing of what occurs to any mind or can 
be conceived by phantasy resembles Him. He has not ceased 
to be the first, the foremost, He who preceded created things 
and existed before the creation. He has not ceased to be 
knowing, deciding, living, nor does He cease to be so. Eyes 
do not see Him, sight does not reach Him, phantasy cannot 
conceive Him nor can He be heard by ears. He is a being, 
but is not as other beings; knowing, deciding, living, unlike 
those who measure living beings by their knowledge. He 
alone is eternal; there is none eternal besides Him, nor a 
God like unto Him. He has no partner in His Kingdom, 
nor a vizier in His government, nor any who assists Him in 
producing what He produces and in creating what He creates. 
He has not created the creation after a foregoing pattern. 
The creation of one thing is neither more easy nor more diffi- 
cult to Him than the creation of any other thing. There is 
no kind of relation between Him and what gives profit; no 
harm can touch Him; neither joy nor pleasure can reach Him, 
nor is He moved by hurt or pain. There is no limit set to 
Him, to make Him finite. The idea of ceasing to be cannot 
be applied to Him, nor is He subject to weakness or dimi- 
nishing. He is exalted above touching women and above 
taking a companion and begetting children. " True, this 
description does not exclude positive qualities altogether; but 
when it is remembered that the Mu'tazilites were uncompro- 
mising opponents of the ascription of eternal qualities to God 
and that even when they admitted their existence they consi- 
dered them to be indistinguishable from His essence, it can be 
seen at once that the rationalists of Islam did not think that 
there was any necessity for ascribing to Allah anything more 


than reality or essential existence or of regarding the attributes 
as anything but allegorical. 

It would have been strange, however, if orthodoxy had 
accepted the validity of the Mu'tazilite conception. The cen- 
tral theme of the Qur\an is Alhah and His working in nature 
and human history. 115 The Quranic revelation would have 
had no meaning, had not God intended to reveal His nature 
and will to man : a revealed religion is necessary because the 
imperfect reason of man is incapable of arriving at a tiue 
conception of God without His own aid. It is not denied 
that man cannot know God unto perfection : but it is denied 
that God's unity and independence exclude the possession of 
real attributes or that it is permissible to reject them alto- 
gether because of their ambiguities and apparent contradic- 
tions. Did not the Qur'an say, 116 " He it is who sent down 
to thee " the Book.' Home of its signs are of themselves per- 
spicuous; these are the basis of the Book and others are 
figurative. But they whose hearts are given to err, follow 
its figures, craving discord, and craving an interpretation; 
yet none knoweth its interpretation but God. But the stable 
in knowledge say, " We believe in it : it is all from our 
Lord." Yet none receive the admonition (i.e., bear this in 
mind), save men endued with understanding "? So the 
orthodox ultimately settled down to the view that the mean- 
ing of the ambiguous verses describing God and His attri- 
butes was known to God alone and that the duty of the 
faithful was to believe in them without discussion " without 
enquiring how and without making comparison." 117 A 
typical instance would suffice. God is described in the Qur'an 
as " the most merciful of those that show mercy " and yet 
He tortures children in a number of ways even though they 
have no fault of their own and they cannot be punished for 

ja Komaluddin, Mam and Christianity, Gh. VI; Threshold of 
Trullt, Ch. JTT. 

lift Snra hi. 5. See ERE. vi. 800 f. See Muhammad Ali, The Holy Quran. 
pp. Ul-42, f.n. 887-89. 

iw See EKE. ii. 800-01, ait. GOD (Muslim); also Wensinck, op. cit. t p. 330. 


the fault of their ancestors. 118 Tbn Hazm's solution of this 
difficulty is thus summarised by Macdonald : 119 " Mercy, in 
our human sense, which is high praise applied to a man. 
rannot he predicated of God. What then does the Qur'an 
mean hy those words? Simply that they arhamu-r-rali- 
min are one of God's names, applied to Him by Himsel' 
and that we have no right to take them as descriptive of a 
quality, mercy, and to use them to throw light on God's 
nature." So the attributes are neither to bo rejected nor to bo 
literally taken : in this, as in many other matters, the general 
Quranic prescription to- adopt the middlo path should bo 
followod, namely, the mean between divesting God of all 
attributes and ascribing to Him qualities borrowed from this 
world. 120 

But the trouble does not end here. The Qur'an 
makes reference to the various attributes and acti- 
vities of Allah in no uncertain terms ; if there an* 
ambiguous passages in which the faithful are ex- 
pected to believe without question, there are also perspicuous 
passages of which the import can never be mis- 
taken by the understanding. Then, again, appeal is made in 
the Qur'an to certain obvious signs in nature from which the 
discerning mind can arrive at a conclusion regarding the 
existence of God. " The creation of the sun, the moon and 
the stars, the order and design witnessed in those orbs which 
constitute the host of heaven, the consummate laws of order 
that regulate the universe, the formation of man's body and 
mind, the marvellous power and wisdom discernible in the 
government of this universe," 121 the due order in which the 

118 Islam doe* not admit either metempsychosis or original sin. Tn its 
solif.tnde to Mi'agnard tin* dire-f dealing or Allah with each individual it went 
to tlic extierne of slices* ing that diseases never spread hy contagion but onlv by 
Ood roimmmi '.\ting them dirwth to each individual. See A. Gmllaume. The 
Tradition* of Islam. p. 123; also p. 178. 

lit) MaMonald. Development of Muslim Theology, p. 210. 

ISO See Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Teachings of Islam, pp. 94-95. 

121 Muslim theologians are generally of opinion that while it is permissible 
to use the reason to arrive at a theistic conclusion, the certainty about God' 
existence comes not from human reason but from Divine revelation. See, e.g., 
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The Teachings of Islam, pp. 75-77 : " In short, unless 


seasons come in their rotation and dead nature springs to life 
with the returning rains, the supremacy of man over land and 
sea and, lastly, the conscience and the faith that man finds 
engraved on his own heart m all bespeak the existence of a 
unitary God and the operation of a merciful Providence. 
" Assuredly in the heavens and the earth are signs for those 
who believe firmly; and in your own creation, and in the 
beasts which He hath dispersed abroad are signs to the firm 
in faith : and in the succession of night and day, and in the 
supply which God sendeth down from the Heaven whereby 
after its death He giveth life to the earth, and in the change 
of the winds are signs for people of discernment. Such are 
the signs of God." 123 None but Almighty God could have 
ordained all these and yet people in their ignorance join other 
gods with God and even bow down before idols which are 
themselves the creations of man. 

Muslim theologians have collected with commendable 
diligence the different attributes,, functions and names of God 
mentioned or implied inxJie 'Qur'an, and many have 
been the disputes over their exact significance among 
the different schools of thought. The final orthodox 
opinion may be summed up in the propositions 
that Allah is the personal name of the Muslim 
God who, if He is to be called a thing or subs- 
tance, is not to be conceived as like other things, and that of 
this Allah there are ninety-nine other excellent names 
(al-asma* flZ-7zti.mfi), 124 all equally eternal and all equally im- 

Almighty God reveals Himself by His word spoken to His servants as lie reveals 
Himself by His work as witnessed in nature, a rational persuasion of His existent, 
which is the outcome of an observation of His works, is never satisfactory " (p. 76). 

l Suras Iviii. 22; xlix. 7, 8. 

1 Sura xlv. 2-5. See also Suras ii. 159; iii. 187; xxx. 18-24; xvi. 2-16; 
xxi. 31-85; xxxi. 28-90. 

*>* On ' ninety-nine,' see the author's article on The Sense of the Incomplete 
in Calcutta Review* January, 1928. 

It is curious that the Muslim tradition of Allah's ninety-nine names should 
lead Jaffur Shurreef, the author of Qanoon-e-Islam (tr. G. A. Herklots, 1832), to 
omit, on p. 358, al-Barl (The Maker). But the number is really 100, including the 
name ot Allah which is to be put either at the beginning or at the end. For 
the list of names, see K. Kama tad din, The Threshold of Truth, pp. 122-28 (also 


portant in so far as they all refer to His being. 125 Whether 
other names deduced from these " excellent titles " 126 or 
the synonyms of Allah in other languages (such as the Persian 
Khuda or the English God) are permissible is doubtful, 127 but, 
as a matter of fact, such other names have also been applied 
to Him. These names, however, are not all of equal lofti- 
ness 128 and there has been some speculation also about " the 
exalted name " (Ism al-A'zam), the choice being limited to 
those used in Sura ii. 158 and Sura iii. 1 (i.e., the Merci- 
ful, the Compassionate, the Self -subsisting and the Living) 
and to the name ' Allah/ 129 Religious exercise includes the 
recitation of all these names with a rosary, but a distinction 
is drawn, as in fiaivism, between the glorious (or auspi- 
cious) and the terrible aspects of Allah in these ninety-nine 
names, and, as in Yaisnavism, different names are taken 
for the fulfilment of different purposes. 130 They do 
not exhaust the list of Divine qualities but they 
describe only those aspects in which Allah has disclosed 
Himself to the human mind : 131 to think that He possesses 
no more qualities is, as Rabbi Hanina remarked on the 
lengthy enumeration of Divine attributes in post-Biblical 

Islam and Zo*oastrianism, pp. 101-03); Hiigbea, Die. 1*1., pp. 141-42. (There is 
some difference between the two lists of names and their meanings). Sir Mohammad 
Tqbal's attempt to understand some of these ancient names (e.g., Dahr) in the 
light of Modern Philosophy, as Dayananda Saraswati's of Vedic word*, is mis- 
placed ingenuity (see Iqbal'a Six Lectures on the Reconstruction of Religion* 
Thought in Islam, 1930, p. 101 t). Nobody else, again, would read in Sura 
xv. 21 an anticipation of the Quantum theory (ibid, p. 03 f.). See Kamaluddin, 
Threshold of Truth, p. 27. 

i2SWensin?k, op. ett., pp. 188, 206. 

m Suras vii. 170; xvii. Ill; lix. 24 (more than a dozen names are packed 
together in Sura lix. 22-24). 

i EKE. ii. B99. Some names do not oocur in the Qur'an but the sense in 
found there (See Hughes, Die. 7*1. , p. 427 ; Enc. 1*1., I, art. ALLAH, p. 802 f.) See 
however, art. 24 of Fikh Akbar H in Wensinck, op. cit., pp. 196 and 286. 

128 Wensinck, op. cit., p. 289. 

iw Hughes, Die. !*!., p. 142; ERE. ii. 299. 

wo Some count the names with the finger. The Hindu practice also follows 
both methods. The rosary was borrowed from the Buddhists through the Sufis 
and passed on to the Christians during the Crusades. 

See EKE. vi. 299. Similar is the case with the names of Visnu. 

Ml K. Kamaluddin, Islam and Zoroastrianism, p. 98; Threshold of Truth, 
p. 121. 



literature, like calling a millionaire the possessor of a hundred 
thousand. 138 An analysis of these different names shows un- 
mistakably Muhammad's lofty conception of Allah. Chris- 
tianity inherited the Jewish idea of God and had only to 
deepen its significance here and there; but Muhammad had to 
attempt a comprehensive description to replace the many gods 
of the Arab religion, and so he had to concentrate in One God 
the different divine functions distributed among these gods of 
polytheism. 133 

In his emphasis upon the unity of God Muhammad went 
back to Judaism with its famous monotheistic creed, ' Hear, 
Israel : the Lord our God is one Lord/ The short chapter 
on The Unity (Sura cxii) was directed against all type^ of 
polytheism (shirk), viz. " a belief in the plurality of gods, a 
belief that other things may possess the perfect attributes of 
the Divine Being, a belief that anything may be related to him, 
and a belief that others may do what is ascribable only to the 
Divine Being." 134 The lonely majesty of God was so far em- 
phasised that the world was regarded, though not ns a sport, 
yet as a mere episode in His eternal life created by Him, 
maintained and guided by Him, and destroyed by Him. 135 
Many of the " excellent names " bring out this aspect of 
Allah : He is the Creator of souls (Al-Khaliq), the Maker of 
bodies (Al-Bciri'), the Fashioner of the image in the womb 
(Al-Musawwir), the Guardian (Al-Wakil), the Preserver 
(Al-Hafi?), the ever Maintainer (Al-Muqlt), the Great Be- 
ginner (Al-Mubdi'), the Eestorer (Al-Mu'Id), the Life-giver or 
Quickener (Al-Muhyl), the Killer (Al-Mumit), the Ender of 
everything (AI-Mu'akhkhir), the Gatherer (Al-Jami'), the 
Nourisher (Ar-Eabb), the Director (Ar-Eashld), the 
Bestower (Al-Wahhab), the Provider (Ar-Eazzaq) and 

1M ERE. vi. 297, art. GOD (Jewish). 

133 On pagan gods in pre-Islamic Arabia, see EBB. i. 660-6, art. 'ARABS 
(Ancient) by Tb. NOldeke. See also Sale's Preliminary Discourse in bis Compre- 
hensive Commentary on the Qur&n (ed. E. M. Wberry), Vol. I, pp. 84-44. 

134 The Holy Qur'&n (tr. by Muhammad All), p. 1235, f.n. 2817. For the 
WahhSbi classification of Shirk, see Hughes, Die. M., p. 579; see also Muhammad 
AH, The Religion of IiUm, p. 146 f. 

Ene. Jrt., H, art. KHALK, p. 899. 


the Destroyer (Al-Muzil). Allah is dependent for 
existence on nothing and is for ever and for ever 
He is He (Hoo), the Living (AJfaiy), the Self- 
subsisting (Al-Qaiyum), the One (Al-Wahid), the Eter- 
nal (As-amad, Al-Azali), the Forerunner (AI-Muqad- 
dim), the First (Al-Awwal), the Last (Al-Akhir), the Alone 
in His attributes (Al-Ahad), the Independent or Self-suffi- 
cient (Al-Ghani), the Survivor or Enduring (Al-BaqI), the 
Inheritor (Al-Warith). He is the Incomparable (Al-BadT) 
and nothing can equal or approach Him in greatness and 
glory He is the Mighty (Al-'Aziz), the All-compelling (Al- 
Jabbar), the Great (Al-Mutakabbir), the Dominant (AJ- 
Quhhar), the Grand (Al-'A?im), the Exalted (Al-'Ali, Al- 
Aala), the Ever Great (Al-Kablr), the Majestic (Al-Jalil), thr 
Glorious (Al-Majid), the Strong (Al-QawI), the Firm 
(Al-Matln), the Powerful (Al-Qadir), the Prevailing (Al- 
Muqtadir), the One above all others (Al-Mitta'filT). Nou us 
the supreme example of enrthly majesty is the King, so Allah 
naturally gets epithets of dominion also He is the Master 
(Al-Malik), the King (Al-Malik), the Protector (Al-Muhai- 
min), the Governor (Al-WalT), the King of All Kingdoms 
(Maliku'1-mulk), the Lord of Majesty and Liberality (Dhu'l- 
jalali wal-ikram). The name of the essence of (Jod is Allah 
a word which has been understood by Muslim theologians 
in the sense of a " Being who exists necessarily by Himself, 
comprising all the attributes of perfection." 

The uncompromising monotheism of Islam is such a well- 
known fact that it is not necessary to dwell upon it longer. 
Suffice it to say that in the eyes of Islam polytheism is an 
unpardonable sin and no personal merit or prophetic inter- 
cession would succeed in outweighing this single guilt of 
denying or qualifying the unity (tawhid) of God. Converse- 
ly, an infidel could save his life from the Muslim sword by 
declaring his belief in the unity of God even though it was 
prompted by fear, and not by conviction, and even though the 
Apostleship of Muhammad was omitted from the shaMda. 1 * 

iMWensinok, op. eft., pp. 99-83. 

880 FAITH versus 

In fact, the profession of Divine Unity sometimes went to 
such length that it alone was considered sufficient for entry 
into Paradise even though theft and fornication had been com- 
mitted. 157 Against this Murji'ite belief in the sufficiency of 
faith in Allah without work, 138 the Kharijite view that a per- 
son committing gross immoral acts like fornication and theft 
ceases to be a Muslim and becomes a mundfiq, a possessor of 
sham faith, was extremely necessary. But orthodoxy has 
inclined more towards Murji'itism than towards the Kharijite 
view inasmuch as it has upheld the position " that whoever 
commits fornication or theft or other grave sins, except 
shirk, may not be declared an infidel for this reason ; he is 
faithful, but his faith is incomplete. Tf he repents, his 
punishment is cancelled and when he persists in his sins, he 
is left to the mercy of God; if He pleaseth, He will punish 
him and cause him to enter Paradise afterwards." 139 But 
lest people should grow neglectful, works were enjoined; still 
laith continued to be regarded as alone sufficient for salva- 
tion. 140 As Wensinck points out, 141 " The identification of 
faith and knowledge was a doctrine of the Murdjites, which 
was received into some forms of the orthodox creed. A con- 
sequence of this doctrine was that little importance was 
attached to works or to the ethical and emotional sides of 

With Muslim theologians the unity of Allah was such a 
fundamental article of belief that there was some danger of 
denying not only external distinctions but also internal dis- 
tinctions in relation to Allah, as was done by Sankara in re- 
lation to Brahman. There was not only no other god either 
in a polytheistic or in a trinitarian sense; but doubts were 

137 Wensinck, op. c*t., p. 46; also EHC. /*/., 11, p. 269, art. KHATTA. 

i* Macdonald, Development of Muslim Theology, p. 126 f; Wanptnck, 
op. ct., p. 45; ERE. v. 695, art. FAITH (Muslim): "An illustration used is 
that a tree may have neither leaves nor fruit and still it is a tree." 

Wenamck, op. cit. t p. 47. Enc. M., II, p. 927 ; also p. 474 (art. IMAN ; 
ERE. v. 695, art. FAITH (Muslim). 

HO Wenainck, op. ctt. f p. 4. 
i Op. ctt,, p. 120. See KIi. v. 6U6, art. FAITH (Muslim). 


raised as to whether the qualities of Allah could be co-eternal 
with His essence, and if so, whether they could be distin- 
guished from it. 142 The problem was acute in respect of the 
seven attributes (sifat) which, by unanimous agreement, were 
assigned to Allcih, namely, Life (hayah), Knowledge (*//M), 
Power (qudra), Will (iradd), Hearing (sam'), Seeing (basar), 
and Speech (kalam). The orthodox Attributists (si fatly ah) 
could not discard either the attributes or the unity of \ lali. 
So they held that the attributes of God were eternally in- 
herent in His essence without separation or change and that 
all the attributes were conjoined with Him, as life with 
knowledge, or knowledge with power, the attributes were 
eternal but indistinguishable from Divine essence. 143 The 
Mu'tazilites, who were stricter adherents of Divine unity, 
not only discarded the last three attributes as " accidents 
peculiar to corporal existence " but denied that eternal attri- 
butes could coexist with the Divine essence without multi- 
plying eternal existences and jeopardising the unity of 
Allah. 144 In a veritable Upanisadic fashion Allah was assign- 
ed contradictory qualities only that whereas the Upanisads 
ascribed to Brahman opposite positive qualities, some of the 
Mu'tazilites described Allah by a double negation, 145 and 
others obliterated the distinction between His essence and 
His attributes. 146 But, more frequently, the Mu'tazilites 

a thorough discussion of the relation of Divine attributes to Divine 
Essence, see Wensinck, op. cit. t pp. 70-77. 

l Hughes, Die. IsL, art. SIFiTlYAH, p. 582. BEE. vi. 801, art. GOD 

l** See Wensinck, op. cit. t p. 84 (quotation from al-Shahrastani). For 
another view, see Hisham ibn-al-Hakam in Moslem Schisms and Sects (tr. Seelye), 
pp. 68-69, according to whom attributes are neither eternal nor created but are 
identical with the Divine Essence and not capable of predication in relation to Gkx). 
See Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism, pp. 128-89. 

145 Thus ' Abbad ibn Sulaiman and his adherents say : It is forbidden to say 
' God has knowledge, power, hearing, sight/ Likewise it is forbidden to say ' God 
has no knowledge, no power.' (See Wensinck, op. eft., p. 77.) Similarly they 
say : It is forbidden to say that the Creator has not ceased creating or that He 
ban not ceased not-creating (or, ceased sustaining or ceased not-sustaining) (ibid, 
p. 75). 

146 Thus Abu'l Hudhail and his adherents say : Allah has knowledge which 
in Himself, and power which is Himself, and life whioh is Himself, and hearing 
which is Himself (ibid, p. 77). Some went ao far as to deny that anything what- 


regarded eternity (including, of course, unity) as the only 
eternal quality of Allah and relegated the other attributes to 
the class of created, and therefore non-eternal, things (in 
which class was necessarily included the Qur'an, the speech of 

A sounder theological instinct, however, led the orthodox 
to keep closer to the language of the Qur'an and to defend 
against the Mu'tazilites the position that a multiplicity of 
eternal qualities or names does not impugn the unitary 
character of God. They also maintained against the Sifati- 
tes or Attributists that attributes were separate or different 
from essence logically, though neither in reality nor in time, 
even in God. Hence it is possible to affirm that Allah pos- 
sesses eternal qualities and also names indicating those quali- 
ties and the functions arising out of the single or joint opera- 
tion of those qualities, only that we must remember that 
" no one participates with God in His person and attributes" 
" nought is there like Him," 147 and that therefore the 
qualities are not to be understood as being like unto the 
qualities of earthly things. Thus God is living, but He does 
not possess a body as we do; unlike ourselves (including the 
apostles), He d6es not begin or cease to be, and He neither 
begets nor is begotten; slumber does not overtake Him nor 
sleep, nor is He ever fatigued by His creative and preserva- 
tive acts. 148 It is from Him, the eternal, the ever-living 
and the subsistent, that all life, nourishment, death and im- 
mortality proceed; it is unpardonable blasphemy to join with 

ever could be predicated of God; others rejected only some of these qualities. The 
Legacy of Islam, p. 263 (see also Wensinck, op. cit., pp. 76-77). 

l* 7 Sura xlii. 9. The problem of the relation between these qualities and 
the essence " was eventually given up by orthodox Islam which took refuge in the 
statement ' they are not He (i.e., Allah Himself), nor are they other than He '; 
this was an admission that the relationship was a theological mystery, ungrasp- 
able by human thought." See Enc. Isl., II, p. 671. 

u* Sura ii. 256. This is directed against the Jewish belief that on the 
Sabbath day God " rested from all his work which he had made " (Gen. ii. 23; 
Ex. xx. 11); but the Deuteronomy had already prescribed the keeping of the 
Sabbath as a remembrance for the safe exodus from Egypt (Dt. v. 15). The 
Sabbath may have been derived in the first instance from some form of moon- 
worship (EBB. v. 868). 


such a living God the manufactured idols of paganism or the 
blind forces of nature or the heavenly bodies or even saints, 

prophets or messiahs. 


But God is not a mere Elan Vital or blind power without 
knowledge and purpose. If God possesses life and power, 
He also possesses knowledge and will. God's knowledge is 
eternal and belongs to His essence : it is not adventitious and 
acquired. The past, the present and the future are all equal- 
ly present to His knowledge : "He knoweth what is present 
with His creatures and what is yet to befall them; yet nought 
of His knowledge do they comprehend, save what He 
willeth." 149 Nothing hidden or manifest in heaven or earth 
falls outside His knowledge; and the inmost thoughts and 
the most secret deeds of all creatures as well as their words 
are all known to Him : " And with Him are the keys of the 
secret things; none knoweth them but He : and He knoweth 
whatever is on the land and in the sea; and no leaf falleth but 
He knoweth it ; neither is there a grain in the darkness of 
the earth, nor a thing green or sere, but it is noted in tho 
perspicuous book. And it is He who takoth yon to Himself 
at night, and knoweth what ye have merited in the day : then 
He awaketh you therein, that the set life-term mav bo ful- 
filled : then unto Him is your return: and then shall He de- 
clare to you that which ye have wrought." 150 " Three per- 
sons speak not privately together, hut He is their fourth: nor 
five, but He is their sixth; nor fewer nor more, but wherever 
they be He is with them." 151 " He verily knoweth tho 
ecret whisper, and the \et mnro hiddnn " 15Z " vrrilv fJn'l 
\nowcth whatever thing they invoke in His stead." 153 He 
lever suffers from forgetfulness, negligence and error. "He 
* the Subtile, the All-informed." 1M 

i Sura ii. 206. 

in Sura vi. 59-60; see also Ixvii. 18. 

m Sura Iviii. 8 (cf. Atharva-Veda, IV. 16.2). 

m Sura zz. 6. 

in Bora xzix. 41. 

1* Sura vi. 108. 


But Allah's knowledge is not a mere awareness of physi- 
cal, mental and moral events; it includes His wisdom in deal- 
ing with the needs of His creation. " He causeth the dawn 
to break, and hath ordained the night for rest, and the sun 
and the moon for computing time ! This is the ordinance of 
the Mighty, the Wise ! And it is He who hath ordained the 
stars for you, that ye may be guided thereby in the darkness 
of the land and of the sea." 155 When man offers up prayer 
to God for help, He knows whether or not to listen to it : out 
of His wisdom He chooses the best for the supplicant. A 
number of epithets indicating the knowledge and wisdom of 
God are included within the excellent titles of Allah. He is 
the Knower (Al-'AlIni), the Knower of Subtlet : es (Al-LatlO, 
the Aware (AI-Khabir), the Keokoner (Al-Hasib), the Re- 
corder (Al-Muhsi), the All-Comprehending (Al-Wasi*), the 
Wise (Al-Haklm), the Finder (Al-Wajid), the Guide (Al- 
Hadi). Closely associated with the above is Allah's pervasive- 
ness, although orthodoxy fought shy of delineating the exact 
relation of Allah to space. He is the Evident, the Without 
Az-Zahir), the Hidden, the Within (Al-Batin). 

Inasmuch as God's knowledge is direct and nothing is 
hidden from His view, seeing is one of His attributes. He is 
the seer (Al-Basir), the Watcher (Ar-Kaqlb), the Witness 
(Ash-Shahid). It is difficult to make out the exact necessity 
of seeing (or hearing) as a Divine attribute separate from 
knowledge; but it is likely that the former was reserved for 
an awareness of men's moral actions, especially of those ac- 
tions which are hidden away from the eyes of other creatures. 
" No vision taketh Him in, but He taketh in all vision/' 156 
He is ever-watchful and He can see the motives from which 
actions proceed ; but He does not require eyes like our 
owii to perform the act of vision nor is His vision a temporal 


What is true of Seeing is true of Hearing also. Allah 
truly is the Hearing (As-Sami) 167 and He hears the smallest 

IK Sura vi. 96-97. 

in Sara vi. 108; also tenrix. 18. 

iw Sura xliv. 5. 


sounds. The Faithful aro enjoined not to shout during their 
devotional exercises, for A'lah is not deaf and He does not 
hear with ears like ourselves. He is the Ever- Hearer of 
Prayers (Al-Mujlb). 

The Divine attribute over which much bitter controversy 
was waged is Speech. In two matters the assumption of this 
attribute becnme inevitable. Allah had spoken to Moses, 
who therefore came to be called KaHinu'llah, Converser with 
Clod, in Muslim Tradition. 158 Although Muslim Tradition 
later on elaborated Muhammad's vision of the Night Journey 
into the story of his conversation with Alliih, it never ad- 
vocated the theory that any of the Quranic revelations came 
from that interview. As the Divine Speech would have been 
in that case a temporal event, probably it was felt that tha-t 
would go against the eternity of the Qur'an. Hence the eter- 
nal speech of Allah was limited to the Quranic revelation, 
which consisted not of the meaning of the words of Allah, 
which could be 1 found in earlier revelations also, but of the ac- 
tual words of God, the Muslim commentators would say ; 159 the 
speech was conveyed through angelic medium to the heart of 
Muhammad. Prom the very nature of the case & good deal 
of speculation was inevitable on the subject of Divine 
speech, 160 especially when matters were complicated, first, 
by the Quranic assumption of a preserved table (in imitation 
of the Mosaic tablets); secondly, by the belief in an eternal 
Arabic Qur'c^n ; 161 and lastly, by the doctrine of abrogation 

158 See art. PROPHET in Hughe*, Die. !/., p. 475. 

159 See Hughes, Die. IsL, art. QUR'AN, p. 484 f. "Of all the divine 
books, the Qur'an is the only one of which the text, words and phrases have 
been communicated to the Prophet by an audible voice." Ibn Khaldun, quoted 
in BEE. vii. 365, art. INSPIRATION (Muslim). See Al-Bayan (Eng. Tr.) by 
Aboo Muhammad Abdul Haqq Haqqani, p. 216 f . ; Sir William Muir, The Life of 
Mohammad (1923), p. xiv, f.n. 1 ; see p. 47 : " So scrupulous was he (Mohammad), 
lest in his words there should be even the appearance of human influence, that 
every sentence of the Kor'an is prefaced by the divine command ' SPEAK ' or 
* SAY ' which, if not expressed, is always to be unders A ood." 

iWThe reader is referred to Enc. IsL, TI, art. KALIM (p. 670 f.) for ftomt 
of the speculations on the exact nature of Divine speech and its communication 
to Moses and o f her Prophets. 

1*1 Sura xii. 2* For the claim of Arabic to be the proper vehicle of Final 
Revelation, see K. Kamaluddin, The Threshold of Truth, Ch, VI, pp. 106-12* 



(which would mean something like eternal scoring through 
some passages in the preserved table of heaven). 162 But in- 
asmuch as God speaks with a tongue not like man's, the 
Qur'an is not the eternal speech of God in respect of " the 
glorious expressions revealed to the Prophet, because these 
are originated/' but only in so far m it " subsists in the 
essence of God." 163 flti'll, the Qur'an is a plenary inspira- 
tion, 164 because* Muhammad did not use here his own mental 
powers under divine guidance (ilhani) us other prophets did 165 
but uttered the very words which God wished him to give 
forth as the divine message. Ft is a,n " external inspiration" 
(wahyi zahir), in which the passive mind of Muhammad was 
completely possessed by an alien power and which is superior 
even to the ''sign of the angel" (Mtiimt al-nwlak) or inspira- 
tion received through Gabriel but not orally. 166 The Divine 

the list of abrogated verses, sec Hughes, Die. hi, p. 520. Comment- 
ing on some cases of abrogation, Margoliouth remarks, "If we admit the theory 
that God's commands are dictates of prudence, i.e., are temporary rules accom- 
modated to the varying circumstances of a few daya or years, the question suggests 
itself: did circumstances cease to change on the Prophet's death? Changing 
so quickly within the twenty years of his activity that the rule which suited the 
first year was wholly inapplicable in the last, can they in the last year have 
become so stereotyped that no further alteration is rcqu'red? " (Early Develop- 
ment of Muhammadanism, p. 50). See Enc. M., II, p. 1065; also Muhammad AJi, 
The Religion of Islam, pp. 35-44. 

iw EKE. vii. 356. " Even the oldest short Suras which might have been 
heard by him in their present form very probably received their present form 
with rhymes, etc., in a later recasting." Enc. M. 9 n, p. 1065. 

iMFor the various (55) names of the Qur'an, see Hughes, Die. I si., p. 485; 
also M. All's Holy Quran, Preface, p. xxviii. 

MS Gabriel sometimes, without appearing in person, so influenced the mind 
of the Prophet that what he spoke was a divine message. This is ilhlm, the 
inspiration of the traditions. ERE. vii. 355. 

1WEBE. vii. 854, art. INSPIRATION (Muslim). See also Hughes, Die. 
M., art. INSPIRATION, pp. 213 and 485 (modes of Muhammad's inspiration). 
There is only one distinct reference to Gabriel as the medium of inspiration in 
the Qur'an, viz., ii. 91. The other references are to Faithful Spirit (xxvi. 103), 
One terrible in power (liii. 5), the Holy Spirit (xvi. 104), and illustrious messenger 
(Ixxxi. 19). Gabriel is simply mentioned also in Ixvi. 4; also as the Holy Spirit 
who strengthened Jesus (ii. 81, 254; v. 109). Cf. Dan. viii. 16; Lk. i. 19, 26. 
Bee Encl. ltl t H. art. KO1UN, p. 1064. See also M. Ali's Holy Quran, p. 1166. 
note H088; also Archer, op. cit., p. 79 f. (esp. p. 83 for Quranic references). For 
the Muslim conception of Gabriel, see Enc. /*/., I, art. DJABR5/IL, pp. 990-91. 
See also Sir W. Muir, Life of Mohammad, pp. 72, 156; Muhammad Ali, The 
Religion of Islam, p. 206, f.n. 1 and also p. 25. 

L>iVlNH J'OWKH ito? 

speech took the form of " command, prohibition, promises 
and threats." " When the revelation was one of denuncia- 
tion or a prediction of woe, the angelic nature of Gabriel 
overcame the nature of Muhammad, who was then transport- 
ed to the angelic world; when the message was one o* comfort 
and consolation, the angel, in the form of a man, delivered 
his message :" 167 thus believed the Traditionalists. But in 
the list of excellent names nothing directly corresponding l* 
the aspect of Speech appears as an epithet of Allah, although 
there is an oft-quoted and much discussed passage in the 
Qur'an, " Our word to a thing when we will it, is but to say, 
'Be/ and it is.' 1168 

The two other attributes, Power and Will, are closely 
related in their operation, power denoting the potentialities 
of action, and \\ill tho mental movement towards actual acts. 
Clod's power is not limited by His will, for He might have 
willed things in quite a different way from what He has ac- 
tually done and no injustices would have attached to Him had 
He done so. " Verily God hath power over all things. 1 ' He 
gave Muhammad victory at Badr but not at Uhud. 169 God is 
powerful enough to " raise the dead, make stones talk, trees 
walk, annihilate the heavens and the earth, and recreate 
them." 17 He has created the earth and the seven heavens, 
one above another; He has created the night and the day, Ihe 
sun, the moon and the stars, and made them subject utterly 
to His command; FTe has created life and death; He sends the 
thunderbolts and strikes with them whom He pleases. 

11 it should bo noted that five kinds of .the waljy (literally revelation or 
mpirafom) of Allah are mentioned in the Holy Qur'an; vtf., first, in its relation 
to inanimate objects, as earth in 09: 6; secondly, in relation to living creatures 
other than man, as the bee (in i6 : 70). thirdly, in relation to men and women 
other than prophets, as the apostles of Jesus in 5 : 111 and the mother of Mose:, 
in 28: 7 (Rodwell's 28: 6); fourthly, m relation to prophets and apostles; anl 
fifthly, in relation to angels/' -Muhammad Ab, The Holy Qitr'fin, p. 547, note 
137U. Seo also his Religion of Islam, p. 202 f. 

WERE. vu. 355, art. INSPIRATION (Muslim). 

iw Sura xvi 4ii. See Hura vu. 141 (Enc. /*/., IT, p. 071'. 

169 Sura 111. 158-59; also xh. 14. 

170 ERE. vi. 300, art. GOD (Muslim), 


Palgrave's description of the omnipotence of Allah m will 
show what the Arabs intended by the credal formula, ' There 
js no god but God/ Says he, " The words in Arabic and 
among Arabs imply that this one Supreme Being is also the 
only one Agent, the only force, the only act existing through- 
out the universe, and leave to all beings also, matter or 
spirit, instinct or intelligence, physical or moral, nothing but 
pure unconditional passiveness, alike in movement or in 
quiescence, in action or in capacity. The sole power, the 
sole motor, movement, energy and deed, is God; the rest is 
downright inertia and mere instrumentality, from the 

highest archangel down to the simplest atom of creation 

Thus immeasurably and eternally exalted above, and dissi- 
milar from, all creatures, which lie levelled before Him on 
one common plane of instrumentality and inertness, God is 
One in the totality of omnipotent and omnipresent action, 
which acknowledges no rule, standard, or limit, save His own 
sole and absolute will. He communicates nothing to His 
creatures, for their seeming power and act over remain His 
alone, and in return He receives nothing from them; for 
whatever they may be, that they are in Him, by Him, and 
from Him only. And, secondly, no superiority, no distinc- 
tion, no pre-eminence, can be lawfully claimed by one crea- 
ture over its fellow, in the utter equalisation of their un- 
exceptional servitude and abasement; all are alike tools of the 
one solitary Force which employs them to crush or to bene- 
fit, to truth or to error, to honour or shame, to happiness or 
misery, quite independently of their individual fitness, deserts 
or advantage, and simply because ' He wills it/ and ' as He 
wills it'." 

Although the language of the above description is a bit 
strong, there can be no doubt that the logic of the Qur' an 
would demand an approximation to this ideal. We have al- 
ready referred to the titles of might, greatness and dominion; 
some more may be pointed out in this reference. Thus Allah 
is the Kestrainer (Al-Qabid), the Abaser (Al-Khafid), the 

m Quoted in Hughes, Die. 1*1., p. U7. 


Exalter (Ar-Eaii 1 ), the Honourer (Al-Mu'izz), the Debascr 
(Al-Mudhil), the Enricher (Al-MughnI), the Giver (Al-Mu'tf), 
the Withholdcr (AI-Mani 1 ), the Distresser (Ad-Parr), the 
Profiter (An-Nati'). " Say, O (iod, to Avliom belongeth domi- 
nion, Thou givest dominion to whom Thou wilt, and from 
whom Thou wilt Thou takost it away; Thou exftlt- 
est whom Thou wilt, and whom Thou wilt Thou 
humblest. In Thy hand is good. Verily Thou art 
all-powerful. Thou causost the night to pass into the 
day, and Thou causest the day to pass into the night; and 
Thou bringest forth the living from the dead and Thou 
bringest forth the dead from the living; and Thou givest sus- 
tenance to whom Thou wilt without measure." 172 So, as 
Wensinck remarks, 173 " the prevailing feature of Allah in 
the Kur'an is His absoluteness, His doing what He pleases 
without being bound by human rules. He extends His 
bounty, His mercy and His wisdom to whomsoever He 
pleaseth; He ^uideth in the right way and He Icaveth to go 
astray whom He pleaseth; if He had so pleased, He would 
have guided all men in the right way; He createth what he 
pleaseth and formcth man in the womb as He pleaseth; He 
forgiveth unto whom He pleaseth; in short, He doeth what 
He pleaseth." 

To such a God the only possible human attitude is ab- 
ject submission. Muhammad was, therefore, logical when 
he called his religion Islam, 174 i.e., resignation to the will of 
God, and regarded the relation of the living creation to Allah 
as pne of servitude. Allah, to a Muhammadan, means " The 
Obeyed, 1 ' 175 and the Apostles, including Jesus and Muham- 
mad, are the servants of Allah. 176 The democratic ideal of 

i?a Sura iii, 25. For Al-Fudali's interpretation of the seven connections 
with the quality of Power, see Masdonald, Development of Muslim Theology, 
p. 329. For the relation of Will to Power, see ibid, p. 330 f. For al-Asli'ari', 
interpretation, see ibid, p. 295; for al-Ghazftli's, p. 302. 

"3 Wensinck, op. ctt., p. 84. 

iw Sura iii. 79. 

175 K. Kamaluddm, Threshold of Truth, p 63. 

"The Koran starts with the notion of Allah, the One, Eternal, ant* 
Almighty God, far above human feelings and aspirations the Lord of His slaves 

390 DlVlNK WILL 

Islam proceeds from the fact that all are equally insignificant 
before God. McDougn.l has ascribed the rapid spread of 
Islam in Oriental countries to the fact that people there ore 
used to the despotism of their temporal rulers and the Islamic 
attitude towards God is one of similar submission, servitude 
and resignation. 177 Similarly, Sell remarks, " God is des- 
cribed as Merciful and Gracious, the Guardian over all, tin; 
Provider of daily bread, the Eeviver of His people and their 
Deliverer, and many similar terms; but all that the Qur'an 
says of the loving-kindness of God is overshadowed by the 
teaching of Muhammad in the Qur'an and the tradition as to 
His power. This is the prominent element in the conception 
of God as taught by the Prophet; it has ruled the Muslim 
world, and still rules it. The most excellent names, ninety 
and nine in number, do not contain any term which denotes 
the relation of God as a Father to His people. The idea is 
repugnant to the Muslim mind, and so in Islam the relation 
of man to God must ever be that of a slave, who lacks the 
freedom and dignity of a son." 178 

The last attribute belonging to Divine essence, namelv, 
Will, raised still more formidable difficulties. The omn. 
potence of God is not peculiar to Muhammadanism; but most 
other religions use the term with a certain reservation in so 
far as it relates to the actions and destinies of finite spirits. 173 
Creation of second creators was repugnant to Islam : did HOI 
Allah declare that He had created all things after a fixed 

not the Father of HID cluldron; a judge meting out stern justice to sinners, and 
extending His mercy only to those who avert His wrath by repentance, humility, 
and unceasing works of devotion; a God of fear rattier than of Jove.- Nicholson, 
The Mystics of Islam, p. 21. 

177 McDougall, The Group Mind, pp. 113-14. 

178 EBB. vi. 302. 

179 For very similar beliefs in Jewish literature, see EBE. v. 703, art. 
FATE (Jewish). Possibly the Qur'an is indebted to it for some of its articles of 
belief on Predestination. Wensinck observes : " The orthodox do .-trine of heavenly 
decrees is not specifically Islamic. It has a broad Semitic basis, as is proved by 
Babylonian and Israelitic religious tradition, which regards' not only the way* o( 
man, but the course of the world as the replica of what had been recorded low 
beiore in heavenly books or on heavenly tablets " (op. at., p. 54). For the whole 
subject, see Muhammad All, The Religion of IMm, Gh. VII. Gadar or 


decree? 1M Allah has eternally fixed the destinies of all 
things 181 and of all nations, m and nothing can befall any 
being but what God has destined for it. 183 Not only have the 
birth 184 and the span of life been fixed for all creatures 185 but 
even their alliances, 186 their vocations 187 and their fortunes : 
" No mischance chanceth either on earth or in your own 
persons, which, ere We brought it into being, was not in the 
Book; Verily, easy is this to God Lest ye distress your- 
selves if good things escape you, and bo over-joyous for what 
falleth to your share." 188 God vouchsafes the gifts of grace 
to whom He wills, 189 for all sovereignty is in His hands; 191 
Ho visits the wrong-doers with punishment in due time even 
though they may prosper for a while. 191 

Now, the bearing of this doctrine on the destiny of man 
was not left to inference, for the Qur'an itself drew out the 
implications of this doctrine in relation to all the activities o r 
the human mind its knowledge, faith and works. Allah 
knows and wills from all eternity what every man will know, 
believe, like and achieve. Wensinck quotes three tradi- 
tions 192 to show that there was some difference of opinion 
about the time when the Divine decree was recorded in the 
case of an individual one fixing it at the forty-second day 
of conception, another at fifty thousand years before the crea- 
tion of the heavens and the earth, and the third accepting the 
second as the time at which it was written on the preserved 

iw Sura liv. 40. 

i Sura Izxxvii. 2. 

18* Sura vii. 92. 

1*3 Sura jx. 61. 

""Sura hii 83. 

185 Suras 111. 139, 148, 162; viii. 17. 

18* Sura xxxiii. 37 (which practically declares that Muhammad 'b 
with the divorced wife of his adopted non Znid was mudfl in heaven :>y A fixcc 
de -ree). 

"' Hum xxxiii. 38-9. 

188 Sura Ivii. 22-28. 

in Sura Ivii. 29. 

iw Sura xiii. 80. 

1*1 Sura xvi. 68. 

i Wensinck, op. tit., pp. 54-56. 


table or elsewhere 193 but holding at the same time that the 
decree was eternal. But in the Traditional literature and the 
philosophies the Divine decree was conceived in a more ex- 
treme fashion than it is set forth in the Qur'an, with the effect 
that although the Jabrites, who denied all rea ity to human 
activity, 194 and the Qadarites, who rejected the eternal decree 
of Allflh, 195 were both stigmatised as heretical, the orthodox 
view leaned towards the Jabrite doctrine 196 and anathematised 
the Qadarite freewillists as dualists (Mazdians) and forbade 
the Faithful the visiting of the sick and following the biers 
of the dead of the latter sect. 197 

In two matters, especially, there could be serious differ- 
ences of opinion regarding the interpretation of the Qur'an. 
The one relates to the faith and works of men and the other 
to their destiny. 198 As Macdonald remarks : " Antinomies 
had no terrors for Muhammad. He, evidently, never thought 
about predestination and free-will, whatever later traditions 
may have put into his mouth; he expressed each side as he 

KB In the Qur'an reference is made to three books, kept in heaven, relating 
to the record of actions and events : 

(1) The * perspicuous book f in which are recorded all the happenings of 
the world from all eternity (though the Qur'an does not expressly mention its 
eternal character). 

(2) The Book of the righteous (Illiyun) and the Book of the wicked (Sijjin), 
in wlush have been written down, Tradition says, eternally (although there is no 
indication in the Qur'an about their eternal aspect) the deeds of men and which 
would be used on the Day of the Last Judgment. 

(3) The book relating to each individual, in whi-'h are lecorded (probably 
at the tune of each occurrence) the good and bad deeds of each individual and 
this will be used as evidence of his career on earth on ihe Judgment day. ERR. 
v. 794. (See Sura xvii. 14.) 

1M The extreme Jabrite view is iound in the Jahmlyah aect. See Hughes, 
Die. W. f art. AL-JABARIYAH, p. 223; ,al*> Wensm;k, op. cit., p. 119 f. 

i5 See K. 0. Seelye, Mortem Schism* and Sect*, Part I (1920), Ch. TJ1 
(p. 116 f.); also p. 87 for their 20 (or 22) subjects 

WMu'tazila writers however also charge the orthodox Ash'anya with being 
D;ubaiiyA, whish as ShahrastanI rightly points out, is not s^ictly correct as, 
although they deny the freedom of the will, they allow that man has some influence 
on action (kasb, appropriation). Enc. 1*1., I, p. 986, art. DJABABIYA. 

at Wensinck, op. ctfc., p, 57 ; Margoliouth, Ear. Dev. Mvh., p. 284, 

W See Wensmck, op. c#., p. 55 f, 


saw it at the moment, and the need of the moment stood/ 1191 
" His predestinarian position steadily hardened towards the 
close of his life, and the earliest conscious Muslim attitude on 
the subject seems to have been of an uncompromising fata- 
lism." 200 Muhammadan orthodoxy could at best suggest cer- 
tain mediating doctrines to reconcile predestination and free- 
will, 201 of which a specimen may be given from the Wa^iyai 
AM Eamfa : m 

" We confess that works are of three kinds, obligatory, 
supererogatory and sinful. The first category is in accord- 
ance with Allah's will, desire, good pleasure, decision, decree, 
creation, judgment, knowledge, guidance and writing on the 
preserved table. The second category is not in accordance 
with Allah's commandment, yet according to His will, desire, 
good pleasure, decision, decree, judgment, knowledge, 
guidance, creation and writing on the preserved table. The 
third category is not in accordance with Allah's command- 
ment, yet in accordance with His will; not in accordance 
with His desire, yet in accordance with His decision; not in 
accordance with His good pleasure, yet in accordance with 
His creation; not in accordance with His guidance; in accord- 
ance with His abandoning and His knowledge; yet not in 
accordance with His intimate awareness 803 or with His writ- 
ing on the preserved table." 204 

c. Itl., J, p. 304, art. ALLAH. Sec Archer, Mystical Element* in 
Mohammed , pp. 34-36. 

* Enc. IsL, II, art. KADAR, p. 605. 

41 Of this doctrine Muhammad mc-kes great use* in the Koran, encouraging 
bis followers to fight without fear, and even desperately, when tbe occasion might 
require, since caution is of no avail against the decrees of Pate and life cannot 
be prolonged when the destined hour arrives. Sir A. N. Wollaston, The Religion 
of the Koran, p. 18 (Wisdom of the Bast Series*. 

Ml See art. KADAR in Enc. /!., II, p. 605. 

Wensinck, op. cit.. pp. 126-27. 

*B Afo'ri/a, a knowledge more intimate and sympathising than ' *Jm. 
Wensinck, op. rift., p. 127, footnote; see Enc. /*., II, art. 'ILM for distinction 
between the two (p. 469). 

*H Wensinck sums up the last in the following words : " Sms result from 
Allah's decision, decree, creation, knowledge, writing down, will and abandoning; 
not according to Hi command, desire, pleasure, judgment or guidance " (op. ctt., 
p. 148). 



That all such attempts at mediation were des- 
tined to be half-hearted is due to the fact that the 
will of God was not unequivocally conceived in the 
Qur'an in relation to the will of man. Thus a 
number of Quranic passages and traditional sayings can be 
quoted to show that Allah's decree extended over all human 
motives and actions. God has created us and all that we 
make. 205 He has graven the faith on the hearts of the be- 
lievers ** and sealed the hearts of the unbelievers and the 
transgressors that they may not hearken or believe or under- 
stand. 207 God misleads whom He wills, and whom He wills 
He guides or puts on the right path. 208 If God had so 
pleased, He would have guided all aright m and made them 
all of one religion ; 21 but He has guided only some of them 
and the others He has abandoned to themselves 2il or decreed 
to err. 212 " He whom God guideth is the guided and they 
whom He misleadeth the lost." 213 Man does not sponta- 
neously take to the path of virtue or vice : " Whoso willeth, 
laketh the way to his Lord ; but will it ye shall not, unless 
God will it." 214 Orthodox Islam did not deny that man 
possessed a sense of freedom ; but, in order to explain it, it 
went to the length of suggesting that not only human acts 
but also the sense of freedom accompanying them had been 
willed and decreed by Allah. 215 " Man accepts for himself 
the action of Allah and his accepting is man's conscious- 
ness of free will." " The action of a creature is created, 

Sura liv. 49. 

*Sura Iviii. 32. 

*W Suras iv. 154; vii. 98; ix. 88, 94; x. 75; xvi. 38, 110; xviii. 101; xxx. 
59; xl. 87; xlvn. 18; Ixm. 3. But see Sir W. Mmr, Life of Mohammad, p. 516- 
" Mohammad held the progress of events in the divine hiwid to be amenable to th 
influence ot prayer/ 1 

208 Sura xiv. 4; also vn. 39; Ixxiv. 34; li. 9. 

2W Sura vi. 35, 150. 

210 Sura xi. 120. 

an Sura ni. 154; see art. KHADHLAN in Enc. IftL. II, p. <W); also 
Wensinck, op. cit., p. 213. 

2i> Suras xvi. 38; xxi. 101. 

a Sura vii. 177. 

2H Sura Izxvi. 29-80. 

s nc. IsL, II, art. KA8T> p. 766. 


originated, produced by Allah but it is ' acquired ' (maksub) 
by the creature, by which is meant its being brought into 
connection with his power and will without there resulting 
any effect from him in it or any introduction to its existence, 
only that he is a locus (mahall) for it." 216 It is not neces- 
sary to enter any further into these theological discussions 
except to point out that the Mu'tazilites in general (following 
the Qadarites) 217 were obliged to combat practically every 
item of this orthodox predestinarian belief, namely, want of 
human freedom and the illusoriness of free choice, Divine 
grace as producing faith in believers and Divine will as 
prompting unbelief in infidels, arbitrary morality and eter- 
nal decree, and the positive relation of God to evil or wrong. 218 
But all spirits did not possess the boldness of the Mu'tazilites ; 
ud so, as Nicholson remarks, 219 " the fatalistic spirit which 
broo-ded darkly over the childhood of Islam the feeling that 
all human actions are determined by an unseen Power, and 
in themselves are worthless and vain caused renunciation 
to become the watchword of early Moslem asceticism." 

Divine will affected not only the wills of men but also 
their destinies we may even say that it is because Allah had 
fixed the fates of men that He determined their will. By an 
eternal decree the destinies of men have all been fixed and re- 
corded in the preserved table and no one can escape the un- 
alterable fate fixed by God. The tradition about the heart- 
less manner in which Allah is supposed to have elected some 
for salvation and the rest for damnation has often been 

Hi This is Al-Ash'ari's doctrine of intis&b. See Enc. IsL, II, pp. 605 and 
780; Sara viii. 17; also Wensinck, op. tit., p. 218. 

m Of course, there were exceptions. See Wensinck, op. cit., pp. 78-82. 

218 The prevailing conception of God as the All-Powerful is not far removed 
from the idea of a despot, and fear, thus separate from love, is either the incentive 
to all effort or leads to the repression of all energy in the Muslim. The idea of 
unlimited arbitrary power, unrestrained by any law of holiness, has so filled the 
Muslim mind that sin is regarded less as a breach of moral law than as a violation 
of some arbitrary decree. Certain actions of the Prophet were evil according to 
any law of righteousness; but no Muslim would admit that in doing them 
Muhammad committed a sin, for he acted under the command of God. ERE. vi. 
302. See also zi. 149, art. SALVATION (Muslim). 

M9 Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p. 86. 


quoted : " When God resolved to create the human race, 
He took into His hands a mass of earth, the same whence all 
mankind were to be formed, and in which they after a man- 
ner pre-existed ; and having then divided the clod into two 
equal portions, He threw the one half into hell, saying, 
" These to eternal fire, and I care not " ; and projected the 
other half into heaven, adding, " and these to Paradise, I 
care not." m Moral regeneration may be the condition of 
salvation, but no man can bring that about except with 
God's permission, decree and will. On the other hand, " the 
process of perdition is that God abandons man by withdraw- 
ing His guidance ; thereupon man abandons his faith and 
the tertius gaudens, Satan, is at hand to rob him of it." m 
A distinction was indeed drawn between God compelling be- 
lief and unbelief and His foreknowing and willing the same, 222 
but the final position was summarised in the tradition \ m 
1 ' If Allah should punish the inhabitants of His heavens and 
the inhabitants of His earth, He would not thereby do in- 
justice. And if you should spend in the path of Allah an 
amount larger than Mount Uhud, He would not accept it 
from you unless you believe in the decree and acknowledge 
that what reaches you could not possibly have missed you, and 
what misses you could not possibly have reached you." Or, as 
al-Ghazall puts it, 224 " His justice is not to be compared 
with the justice of men. For a man may be supposed to act 
unjustly by invading the possession of another ; but no in- 
justice can be conceived by God, inasmuch as there is nothing 
that belongs to any other besides Himself, so that wrong is 
not imputable to Him as meddling with things not appertain- 
ing to Him Loving kindness, the showing favour and 

grace, and beneficence, belong to Him ; whereas it is in His 
power to pour forth upon men a variety of torments, and 

MO See Hughes, Die. I*l. t p. 148 (art. GOD); also p. 472 (art. PKKDBR- 
TINATION). But see Mohammad AH, The Religion of I*fm, pp. 835-87. 
raWensinck, pp. cf., p. 385. 
/6id, pp. 191, 211. 
2flm/, p. 108. 
Hughes, Die. M., p. 146 (art. GOD), 


afflict them with various kinds of sorrows and diseases, 
which, if He were to do, His justice could not be arraigned, 
nor would He be chargeable with injustice." 

That the problem of adjusting Divine justice to Divine 
decree raised acute difficulties can be easily gathered from 
the Traditions. If " everyone is guided to that for which he 
was created," 226 one can never be sure how one would finish 
one's career. A life-time of good works may be spoiled by 
that stubbornness of heart which refuses to acknowledge the 
unity of Allah and the apostleship of Muhammad ; and a life 
spent in evil may be redeemed at the end by the timely accep- 
tance of the saving creed. Wensinck quotes a number of 
traditions 226 in support of the views that "There is no living 
soul for which Allah has not appointed its place in Paradise 
or in Hell, and the decision of happy or unhappy has already 
been taken," and " Works must be judged from the 
concluding acts (al-khawatim) only." To quote one of 
them i 227 "A man may perform the works of the dwellers in 
Paradise for a long time, yet his work may receive finally 
the stamp of that of the dwellers in Hell. Likewise a man 
may perform the works of the dwellers in Hell for 
a long time, yet his works may finally receive the 
stamp of that of the dwellers in Paradise." It ap- 
pears, however, that where the criterion of faith was 
inapplicable, there was a good deal of difficulty in 
assessing the final destiny. Thus the fates of the children 
of infidels and believers who die in infancy were subjects 
of considerable discussion. 228 A strong tradition upheld the 

*** See Wensinck, op. tit., p. 56. 

*WI6td, pp. 55-66. 

mjbid, p. 55. 

For a discussion of the whole subject, see Wensinck, op. ctt., pp. 42-44. 
" Al-Ghazfili developed the doctrine of a Lirobo for those who, by reason of youth, 
mental affliction, historical and geographical- situation and environment, had not 
been able to become Muslims and, therefore, had no works of obedience, in the 
technical sense, to their rredit." Enc. 1*1., II, p. 1051. See the Fikh Akbar 111, 
art. 4, in Wensinek, op. oit., p. 265. Cf. the Fikh Akbar III, art. 91 : 

It would be absurd to suppose that Allah should wrong anyone. He is free 
to impose suffering on innocent children and animals without indemnifying them.-- 
Wensinok, op. cit. t p. 267. 


view that every child is born in the fitra, the natural basis 
of the true religion, and that it is his parents that make of 
him a Jew or a Christian or a Parsi i n9 but another tradition 
laid down that when God knows that a child will become a 
Muslim, it is born in Islam, otherwise it is bom in un- 
belief. 230 We are interested in these arid discussions of 
dogma only in so far as they throw light on the nature and 
limits of Divine volition in relation to human destiny. The 
futility of works under those conditions was foreseen and 
works were enjoined not to force the hands of Allah regarding 
a better future but to indicate rather that one was living 
under Divine guidance. 231 

The Mu'tazilites were not slow to perceive, as the 
Qadarites had done before them, that unless man's acts were 
his own, he could not be held responsible for them or their 
consequences, and that Divine justice would be impugned by 
accepting the view that God decrees Paradise or Hell before 
man has deserved either of them by his virtuous or vicious 
acts. But even al-Ghazali, dealing with the acts of Allat, 
could remark that " there does not rest on Him any obligation 
to give laws, to create, to give reward, to take into account 
what is salutary for His servants ; that it is not absurd that 
He should command them to do what is above their power ; 
that He is not obliged to punish sins; and that it is not 
absurd that He should send Prophets/' 232 Fortunately, the 
Qur'an contains many verses in support of the freedom of the 
will 233 and the justice of Divine dealings with saints and 
sinners alike. God not only watches and records the deeds 
of men but He visits the iniquitous with dire punishment 
on the Day of Judgment when the creatures wronged bear 
witness against their oppressors, the good and the evil done 
by each individual are carefully and justly weighed against 

Wensmck, op. cit., p. 42. See Muhammad All, The Religion, of Islam. 

pp. uay-40. 

230 Ibid, p. 48. 
831 Ibid, p. 56. 
238/btd, p. 95. 
233 See Wensinck, op. cit. t p. 501. 


each other in the Balance, 234 and the intercession of inter- 
ceders do not avail. 235 He and His vigilant agents, the 
angels, watch over the thoughts and acts of men by day and 
by night i 236 every soul "shall enjoy the good which it has 
acquired and shall bear the evil for the acquirement of which 
it laboured," 237 even though either should be only of the 
weight of an atom or of a mustard-seed. 238 Eighteousness 
is serving Allah as if He were before one's very eyes. 239 
Again and again are the Faithful commanded to enjoin the 
right and forbid the wrong, 240 and they are even praised as 
oemg % " the best folk that hath been raised up for mankind " 
inasmuch as they enjoin the Just, forbid the Evil and believe 
in God. 241 A religion which insists on justice being an essen- 
tial condition of the religious life cannot but invest God with 
the same attribute. God is not unjust towards His servants. 242 
Orthodox Islam, with its predestinarian leanings, could not 
subscribe wholeheartedly to the Mu'tazilite view that sinning 
was wholly due to human volition 243 and it had therefore to 
combat these " partisans of unity and justice " (ahl al-'adl 
wa'l-tawhid), in so far as they made man wholly responsible 
for moral evil in order to defend Divine justice. 244 But with 

234 Suras xxi. 48 ; vii. 7. 

235 Suras Ixxiv. 49; Ixxxii. 19; ii. 45. 

236 Suras xin. 11-12 ; Ixxxii. 10-12. 

237 Sura 11. 286. 

238 Suras xcix. 7, 8; xxj. 48; in. Ill ; xxxi. 15; alrfo iv. 52. 
9 See Wensimk, op. ctt., p. 23. 

2 Sura 111. 100; ix. 72, 113; xxii. 42; cf. also Sura vii. 156; iii. 110; xxxi. Ifi. 

241 Sura iii. 106. 

242 Sura iv. 44. 

M3 The orthodox position is summed up in Fikh Akbar II (art. 22) as follow, : 
Allah guideth whomsoever He pleaseth, by gia-c, and He leadeih astray 
whomsoever Ho pleaseth, by justice. His leading astray means His abandoning, 
and the explanation of " abandoning " is that He does not help a man by guiding 
him towards deeds that please Him. This IB justice on his part, and BO is His 
punishment of those who are abandoned on account of sin. We are not allowed 
to say that Satan deprives the Faithful of his faith by constraint and compulsion. 
But we say that man gives up his faith, whereupon Satan deprives him of it 
(Wensinck, op. ctt., p. 195). 

244 The Mu'tazihtes did not reject the connection between Allah and evil in 
the sen o of accidents, sickness, and .so on. At least one thinker, however, rejected 
ven this connection. See Wens luck, op. ct., p. 145. 


a happy inconsistency it looked upon Allah as the Just (Al- 
'Adl), the Faithful (Al-Mu'min), the Judge (Al-Hakam), the 
Righteous (Al-Barr), the Equitable (Al-Muqsit), and also the 
Lord of the Day of Judgment, variously described as the 
opener (Al-Basit), the Great Opener (A!-Fattah) and the 
Opener of the Tomb or the Kaiser (Al-Ba'ilh) and the Avenger 
(Al-Mimtaqim). He does not forsake those who obey His 
commands, for He is the Great Grateful (Ash-Shakur) ; in 
Him can all take refuge in case of injustice, for He is the 
Friend, the Patron (Al-Wali), of all creatures ; and on those 
that believe and do the things that are right He bestows His 
love, 245 for He is the Loving (Al-Wadfid). 

But if God is loving, will He not take compassion on the 
frailty of man and temper justice with mercy in cases of 
lighter faults? 2M Even in cases of grave sins, we have al- 
ready seen, the Qur'Sn provides for intercession with Allah's 
permission, which means that God does not wish to abandon 
the sinner altogether and consign him to eternal hell if he has 
died with belief in Divine unity. 247 To suppose that the whole 
process is illusory in view of the predestined end of every single 
individual might yield consistency of thought but not satis- 
faction of the heart. No religion that believes in the incapacity 
of man to achieve salvation without Divine aid can dispense 
with the necessity either of Divine Incarnation or of Pro- 
phetic Intercession or of Divine Mercy. Unless Divine Grace 
second the efforts of men (and even dispense with the latter), 
their final destiny is dark and dismal in the extreme. Hence 
the Qnr'an had to preach not only submission to the inscrut- 
able will and decree of Allah but also faith in Divine Justice 
and hope for Divine Mercy. Thus although there are pas- 
sages to indicate that Divine Justice can overtake sinning 

*** Sura xix. 96. See BEE. v. 896 : " The orthodox view is that they 
(Imftn and Isl&m) are synonymous, and that a Muslim is a run' nun, a believer, 
By others, Islam is looked upon as a larger term than Iman. It is said that 
Islam signifies belief with the heart, confession with the tongue, and good works 
done by the various parts of the body. Iman refers to the first of these and if, 
therefore, only a component part of Islftm." 

"* Sura liii. 83. 

w See Sura iz. 114-15. 


individuals and nations only at n predestined time, 248 other 
passages allude to the patience with which Allah bears their 
iniquities and the quickness with which He forgives repen- 
tant sinners. 249 He is the Patient, the Long-suffering (A?- 
abur), the Clement (Al-?alim), the Generous (Al-Karlm), 
the Lenient or Kind (Ar-Ka'uf), the Forgiver (Al-Ghafir), 
the Much Forgiver (Al-Ghafur), the Forgiver par metier 
(Al-(rhaffSr), the Pardoner (Al-'Afuww), the Acceptor of lie- 
pentanco (At-Tawwab) and of Prayer (Al-Mujlb). His mer- 
cy embraces all things 860 and He never -punishes until He 
has first sent in His mercy an Apostle as a warner, 251 the 
Qur'an, for instance, being a mercy unto all creatures. 282 The 
Lord judges with truth but He is also the God of Mercy. 253 
Every sura in the Qur'an, with the exception of the ninth, 
begins with the words, " In the name of God, the Compas- 
sionate, the Merciful " (Bismillah-i'r-Eahmcan-i'r-RahTm). 254 
One of the finest verses closes the second sura of the Qur'nn : 255 
" God will not burden any soul beyond its power. It shall 
enjoy the good which it hath acquired, and shall bear the evil 

The test of belief is prayer according to the tradition " Between faith and 
unbelief lies the negle-'t of prayer." According to Islamic tradition the wen 
grave sins, are Polytheism, magic, unlawful manlaying, spending the monny of 
orphans, usury, desertion from battle, and slandering chaste but heedless women 
who ate faithful. 

" According to the orthodox view polytheism is. the only sin whicli U in- 
consistent with being a Muslim. A man who is guilty of other sins .loes not 
thereby lose this character. Allah may punish him in Hell, or He may grant 
him torgiveness even without previous repentance." See Wensinck, op cit.. 
p. 39 f.; also p. 46; also p. 104 f (the word * for ever * of Sura iv. 95 being 
interpreted as ' for a long time '). 

2^8 Sura xxiii. 45. 

2 ** Sui a xl, 1-3; similarly, men are asked to "seek help *h rough 
and prayer : verily God is with the patient " (Sura ii. 148; also Sura iii. 140). 

*w Hura vii. 155. 

Ki Sura xvii, 16. 

*K Sura xxi. lia. The opposite verse is Sura vi. 148 : " Your Tx>rd is of 
all-embra-iing mercy : bur his severity shall not be turned aside from the wicked." 

*M Once only does it occur in the middle of a Sura, viz., in Sura xxvij. 80. 
Kor Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian parallels, see Sale's Preliminary Discourse 
in his Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran, Vol. I, p. 100 (Sale thinks that 
the lorinula was borrowed from the Persian Magi). 
ii. ttW; see also xxiii. 65. 



for the acquirement of which it laboured. O our Lord! 
punish us not if we forget, or fall into sin ; our Lord ! and 
lay not on us a load like that which Thou hast laid on those 
who have been before us ; our Lord 1 and lay not on us that 
for which we have not strength ! but blot out our sins and 
forgive us, and have pity on us. Thou art our protector : 
help us then against the unbelievers." A prayer like this is 
farthest removed from belief in unalterable fate and fixed 
destiny. From a God of this description only good could be 
expected and the Mu'tazilites drew the inevitable conclusion 
that, provided men freely acted for it, they were bound to 
get their reward, for God's wisdom " keeps in view what is 
salutary (as-salah) to His servants >>256 from the religious 
point of view. They could very well quote Sura ix. 11?. : 
" Those who turn to God in penitence, those who worship, 
those who pray, who fast, who bow down, who prostrate 
themselves, who enjoin what is right and forbid what is un- 
lawful, and keep to the bounds of God, shall have their re- 
compense." w 

There is no doubt that in spite of its pedestinarian teach- 
ings the Qur'an did not consider man's moral stnigg'es as 
illusory or Divine beneficence as regardless of human justice 
and prayer. While severe 1o those who consciously and deli- 
berately flout His laws, God is possessed of an all-embracing 
mercy * that is ever ready to make concession for human 
weakness, for " He hath imposed mercy on Himself as a 
law " M and none except a disbelieving people need despair 
of His mercy. 260 " If ye would reckon up the favours of 
God, ye cannot count them." 261 If men had power over the 
treasures of the Lord's mercy, they would have assuredly re- 
tained them through fear of spending them, for man is 

256Wensinck, op. cit., p. 62; also pp. 80-82. 
, ' .257 See also xxv. 67-9 ; xvii. 27-8. 
- 268 Sura ii. 148; see also 1. 81-33. 

2WStira ii. 12. 

2M Sura i. 87; also iv. 51; xv. 56. 

261 Suras xiv. 87 ; xvi. 18. 


niggardly ; 262 but Mod's mercy knows no bounds. God is 
Lord of Grace, merciful and loving, and the least that man 
can do is to #ivo Him thanks ; but man is proud, treacherous, 
ungrateful and unfaithful and does not understand and appre- 
ciate the many mercies with which God has encircled him 
the regularity of the seasons and the beauties and bounties 
of nature. 263 But those who seek God's mercy must ap- 
proach Him with clean hands ; thoy must not only be not 
unjust to their fellow-men, mischievous or self-conceited but 
also be benevolent to tho needy and the wenk. Thoy must fulfil 
their social obligations by sharing the bounties of Divine 
mercy with their less fortunate brethren.* 4 The deepest 
point of this vein of thinking is reached when Allah is des- 
cribed as the Holy One (Al-Quddus) (or, as in the Qur'an, 
the King, the Holy),** the Kver Praiseworthy (Al-Hamld), 
the One who is to bo likened to whatever is loftiest, 266 the 
Peaceful or the One immune from all lack or defect (As- 
Salam), 267 the Light (An-Nur), and the Fact or the Real (Al- 
Haqq). It has been a matter of conjecture as to what 
the Qur'an intended to convey by the words ' Holiness,' 
' Peace ' and ' Light ' 268 and it has also been doubted 
whether Muhammad could call God ' just ' M and also 
whether tho Reality of God could leave room for independent 
flnite centres of activity. 270 But if we make no fetish of 
fltrict logic but try instead to enter into the spirit of the moral 
and devotional life of the Muslims, we are bound to admit 
that these words have exactly the same significance for 
spiritual life in Islam as in other systems of ethical mono- 
theism and that on the whole the Muslim conception of God, 
apart from its latent theological contradictions, provides a 

WBura xvii. 103. 

H3 Sura lv. The Merciful. 

2 Suras Ixiv. 17; Ixxni. 20; cvii. 4-7; xx. 84. 

*5 Buras lix. 23; Ixii. 1. 

a Sura xvi. 62. 

287 flnra lix. 23. 

a* Knc. /*/., I, p. HTCJ. 

WEnc. l*L< T, p. 303. 

270 See Macdonald, Development of Muslim Theology, p. 908, 


striking testimony to the intellectual acumen and ethical in- 
sight of its founder even after large deductions have been 
made from the almost superhuman qualities claimed on 
behalf of the Prophet by his followers. 

Christian writers have sometimes doubted whether the 
Muslim God is sufficiently personal. 271 The awful majesty 
of Allah, His transcendence, the impropriety of conceiving 
Him after human analogy, the impossibility of fixing His 
nature definitely in view of the contingent character of all 
objects, Jaws and relations, created and decreed by Him 
.ill these are unfavourable factors for personalising Him. But 
here again we should trust to the belief of the 
Muslim community rather than to a description of 
the following type: 272 " But He Himself, sterile 
in His inaccessible height, neither loving nor en- 
joying aught save His own and self-measured decree, 
without son, companion, or counsellor, is no less barren of 
Himself than for His creatures, and His own barrenness 
and lone egoism in Himself is the rause and rule of His in- 
different and unregarding despotism around/' The consi- 
deration of Divine names and attributes would be unmean- 
ing except on the supposition that God is personal and deals 
with the just and the wicked as a personal being would do. 
Revelation, command, prohibition, threat, encouragement, 
justice, mercy and love can hardly be predicated of an imper- 
sonal Force or Consciousness. Tt has, however, been more 
correctly remarked 273 that " with only a 'little ingenuity in 

271 The following passage from C. J. J. Webb, Religion and Theitm (J034). 
p. 47, is instructive in this connection : " Tt, would probably surprise many critics 
of traditional language to learn what is nevertheless true, that ' the personality 
of God ' is a phrase unknown to Christian theology until well within the last 
two hundred years ; that ' personality ' was not reckoned among the divine 
' attributes ' so-called and was long ascribed to God only in connexion with the 
' three persons * worshipped by the Christian Church as one God; and that even 
the early Socinian divine,* were not concerned to insist upon ascribing * personal- 
ity ' to him, but only to contend that, if ihe term were employed in reference to 
God (which employment they were inclined to deprecate), he would be spoken of 
aa One Person, and not as three. 1 ' (See the same writer's God and Personality, 
Lee. III.) 

273 Hughes, Die. I si, p. 147, quoting Palgrave. 

3 tfnc. Itl., 1, art. Ai*LAH, p. 306. 


onesidedness an absolutely anthropomorphic deity could be 
put together or a practically pantheistic, or a coldly and aloof- 
ly rationalistic '* and that " the only impossibility, as the 
Mu'tazilites found in the end, was a faindant God, a stripped 
abstract idea." We may close our account by reference to 
these aspects of Muslim theology. 

Although Muslim theologians, in their opposition to 
idolatry and anthropopathisin, took particular care to point 
out that human qualities predicated of Allah did not bear the 
same significance, yet there are passages in the Qur'an which 
could be understood only anthropomorphically. The 
Mu'tazilites were not slow to point out that the qualities of 
seeing, hearing and speech, when taken separately from 
knowledge and power, could apply only to a Being possessed 
of a body and were, therefore, not rightly used of God by the 
orthodox section of the community. When even spiritual 
qualities like knowledge, will, mercy, justice, etc., could be 
only metaphorically used of (lod or used with a profoundly 
different connotation, the physical attributes were hardly 
appropriate as descriptions of Divine nature: so thought 
the Batioimlists of Islam. 274 But, on the other hand, the 
orthodox felt that some, of the descriptions were so realistic 
that there was obvious danger in taking them as " plastic 
metaphors "' ; for once the wit of man was allowed to un- 
derstand the words of God in its own way, there was no 
knowing how far allegorical interpretation would extend. 
Thus, to quote Wensinck, 275 " the Kur'an speaks of the eyes 
of Allah ; of His hand in which " is the empire of all things," 
" in which are plentiful gifts " and which is " over the 
hands of those who plight fealty to Muhammad." Allah 
tells Iblis (Satan) that He had created Adam with His own 
hands. " Both His hands are outstretched." " The face of 
Allah is likewise a representation familiar to the Kur'an. " 
" All on earth passeth away, but the face of thy Lord 
nbidcth." " Finally, the Kur'an is full of descriptions of 

N Wensinck, op. 0ft., p. 68; see also pp. 73 f., 86, 88 f. 
s Wensinck, op. cit., pp. 66-67. 


Heaven and Hell, which are not used in a metaphorical sense. 
To Heaven belongs the throne of Allah ; He is the Lord of the 
throne, the noble, large, exalted throne, which is borne by the 
angels." The faithful of this earth, on entering Paradise, 
11 shall see the angels circling around the throne, uttering 
the praises of their Lord." Again, Allah is represented in 
the Qur'an, as in the Old Testament, as having spoken with 
Moses, and the Faithful are assured of seeing Allah in Para- 
dise just as, according to Muslim tradition, Muhammad had 
done in the night of the Ascension. He is also described in a 
tradition as descending every night to the lowest heaven and 
offering beneficence and forgiveness to all who would ask 
for them. 276 

While the Mu'tazilites severely criticised the anthropo- 
morphic conceptions of Allah, preached in popular and 
traditional literature, and rejected the corporeal vision of God 
in Paradise and all physical attributes and actions of Allah, 
including His occupying n throne supported by eight 
angels, 277 there were others who were willing to go farther 
than the orthodox in the direction of anthropomorphism and 
to invest Allah with tangible qualities. Thus, " Hisham 
ibn al-Hakam claimed that that which he worshipped was 
a body possessing dimensions, height, breadth and thickness, 
its height being equal to its breadth and to its depth, while 
its length and breadth are specified only as long and broad. 
He held, moreover, that its extension upward is no greater 
than its breadth. In addition, he claimed that the object 
that he worshipped was a diffusing light, shining as a pure 
chain of silver, and as a pearl perfectly rounded. This object 
also possessed, according to him, colour, taste, smell, touch. 
He also claims that its colour is its taste, its taste its smell, 
its smell its touch. He does not say that colour and taste 
are its essence, but he claims that the object itself is colour 

iWensinck, op. cit. t p. 90. 

wfftirf, p. 88 f/ Thus (tod's hand and fare were taken in the iense o' 
Divine bounty and knowledge. 


and taste." 278 Similarly, Hisham ibn Salim al-Jawallki 
" claimed that the object which he worshipped was in the 
image of man, but was not flesh and blood, being a diffused 
white light. He claimed also that he possesses five senses, 
like the senses of man, and has hands and feet and eyes and 
ears and nose and mouth, and he hears by a different means 
from that by which he sees, and the rest of the senses being 
different in the same way. He goes on to say that the upper 
half of this being is hollow and the lower is solid." Further, 
" he claims that his object of worship had black hair, it 
being a black light, but the rest of the person is white 
light." 279 Shaiban ibn Halainah al-KharijI " hold the 
doctrine of the likeness of Allah to his creatures." m 
These instances must suffice to show that spasmodic 
attempts to understand God more anthropomorphically 
were made even in Islam ; but it should be added 
that they were at once stigmatised by the orthodox commu- 
nity as heretical. As a matter of fact, however, ortho- 
doxy fought with equal tenacity both anthropomorphism and 
allegorisation. Hence the Mu'tazilite attempt to put a 
spiritual interpretation upon Divine physical acts was equal- 
ly anathematised. al-Ash'ar! voiced the orthodox opinion 
when he exclaimed, " May Allah preserve us from a tanzih 
which would imply negation and ta'til " m (i.e., divesting 
God of what pertains to Him). He was willing to admit that 
11 hand and face are hand as a quality and face as a quality, 
just as hearing and sight," and so likewise are descending to 
the lowest Heaven and sitting on the throno qualities of 
Allah ; but he was against either understanding these in 
lerms of human organs and their activities or regarding 
them as merely symbolical of spiritual facts. 282 Similarly, in 

** Moslem Schisms and Sect* (tr. Seelye), p. 67. (See Wensinck, ftp. cit.. 
p. 67.) 

*79/6f, pp. 70-71. 
WUbtf, p. 103. 
881 Wensinck, op. cit., p. 90. 
p. J f. 


the various formulae of the Muslim creed, the seeing of Allah 
by the Faithful in Paradise was accepted as a fact finally 
settled by tradition on the basis of Quranic texts, 283 although 
anthropomorphism was sought to be avoided by adding that 
the beatific vision would be " without description, compari- 
son or modality." ** 

But while the orthodox were speculating how Allah 
would reveal Himself to the Faithful in Paradise, a different 
set of people began to build their philosophy of life and de- 
votion on the more mystical texts of the Qur'an. While the 
transcendental aspect of God is predominant in the Qur'an ** 
and orthodoxy tended to accentuate the remoteness of Allah 
and the duality of God and the finite spirit, the nearness of 
God could be equally defended on the Quranic basis. The 
Sufis could cite and meditate on certain passages (as 
they particularly did on the mysterious passages concerning 
the Night Journey and Ascension) ** to justify and bring 
about mystical experience and could also point to 
Muhammad's habit of retiring into solitude in imi- 
tation of Christian ascetics and his ecstatic fit when 
receiving his inspiration and to that moral and 
spiritual earnestness of his which could come only 
to one who bad felt the terrible nearness of 
God. 287 We may quote some of those passages as collected 
l>y Nicholson : ** ' Allah is the Light of the heavens and 
the earth ' (xxiv. 35) ; ' He is the first and the last and the 
outward and the inward ' (Ivii. 3) ; ' there is no god but He ; 
everything is perishing exeept His Fare ' (xxviii. ftR) ; ** ' T 

283 Wensinck, op. cif. f pp. 179-80; (see Quranic references 'here). Wensinck 
thinks " the meeting with Allah " possibly means resurrection. 

M See art. 24 of The Waslya* Abl Hanifa (p. 180) and art. 17 of the 
Fikh Akbar II (p. 193) and the Fikh Akbar TTI (p. 266) in Wensinck, rp. cit. 
See also pp. 179 and 63 f. 

*W8ee Archer, op. ct'f. t p. 33 f.; The Legacy of Islam, p. 212. 

Suras xvii. 1; liii. 1-18; see Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p. 212. 

7 See Maxsdonald, Rel. Aft. and Life in Islam, p. 39. 

H The Legacy of Islam, p. 212. 

* On this favourite expression of Mohammad (" The Face of Allah "), see 
Hacdonald, Aspects of Islam, pp. 186-87, where the different Quranic passages 
f%ve been quoted. 


have breathed into him (man) of My spirit ' (xv. 29) ; ' Veri- 
ly, We have created man and We know what his soul 
suggests to him, for We are nigher unto him than the neck- 
artery ' (1.15) ; ' wheresoever ye turn, there is the Face of 
Allah ' (ii.109) ; ' he to whom Allah giveth not light hath 
no light at all ' (xxiv.40). It is possible to cite more pas- 
sages in support of the nearness of God. 290 All all ' encom- 
passes all things ' (iv.125) and ' is round about mankind ' 
(xvii.62); He is ' nigh, ready to answer ' (xi.64) and one 
need not use a loud voice during prayer to make oneself 
audible to Him (xvii. 110) for He hears even the whisper of 
a soul to itself (1.15) ; He is with every number of men, 
the fourth when there are three, the sixth when there are five 
and so on (lvii.4; lviii.8), 291 and He ' comes in between a 
man and his own heart ' (viii. 24). The signs of God are in 
the very selves of men and ' He is His own inner witness in 
men's hearts/ 292 God is knowable, therefore, not by the 
senses or the intellect but by illumination, revelation and 
inspiration. 293 He is high above but He is also in the be- 
liever's heart : " God is the Light of the Heavens and of the 
Earth. His light is like a niche in which is a lamp the 
lamp enclosed in glass the glass, as it were, a glistening 
star." 294 No wonder, therefore, that, as Macdonald points 
out, Muhammad should freely admit a certain minor ins- 
piration belonging to the saints (lit. friends) of AlLah and 
even to every human being in dreams. 295 In fact, a close 
approximation to the Hindu standpoint can be easily made 

190 See Archer, op. cfr. t p. 36 f. 

i Cf. Sura Ivi, 84. 

2See Archer, op. cit., p. 38; Suras li. 21; xxxviii. 72; xv. 29; xcvi. 13; 
Ixxxv. 9; liii. 36. See Nicholson, Mystics of Islam, pp. 53, 70. 

3 Nicholson, Mystics of Islam, pp. 69-70. For Hie relation between the 
revelation to the Sufis and the Quranic revela'ion, see Margoliouth, Ear. Deo. Muh., 
p. 186 f. For dreams as revelations, see Macdonald, Rel. Att. and Life in Islam, 
p 79 f. 

* Sura xxiv. 85. See Nicholson, Mystics of Islam, p. 51. 

5 Macdonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 188; Rel. Att. and Life in If Jam, 
riec. HI. The tariqas or paths by which they (the Sufis) seek God " are in 
number as the souls of men. 1 ' Nicholson, Mystics of Islam, p. 27. (See also 
p. 87 f. about the equality of all religions.) 



out here, for there are passages in the Qur'an that talk of 
" an intercourse with God coming to the believer directly, 
without intermediaries " ** and the rest, calm and strength 
that come to man through frequent remembrance of Allah 
(dhikr). " God truly misleadeth whom He will ; and He 
guideth to Himself him who turneth to Him, those who be- 
lieve, and whose hearts rest securely on the thought of 
God." ** Such religious intuition comes from Allah Him- 
self *" and is " opposed to knowledge that comes by human 
teaching, or by tradition, or through any thinking out by 
reason." m If man has been made in the image of God and 
He has breathed into man of His spirit, all that is necessary 
is to polish the mirror of one's own heart in order to know 
God. 301 Did not a tradition represent God as saying, " My 
earth cannot contain me, nor my heaven, but the tender and 
tranquil heart of my believing creature contains me ' ' ? ** 

It was reserved for the mystics of Islam to develop Ihi* 
unity, ubiquity and eternity of Allah in a pantheistic sense 
among others. Under Christian, Neo-Platonic, Gnostic, 
Buddhistic and Vedantic influences 303 the " ascetic-ecstatic 
life " rapidly grew in prominence, 304 and saints and sufis ab- 

i* Macdonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 189. 

W Sura xxxiii. 41. See Nicholson, Mystics of Islam, p. 45 f. 

298 Sura xiii. 27-28. 

* The Sufi doctrine of istmbat, ' mysterious inflow of divinely revealed 
knowledge into hearts made pure by repentance and filled with the thought of God/ 
was based on *he possibility of direct knowledge from God. Nicholson, Mystics of 
Islam, p. 23. 

300 Macdonald, Asp. IsL, p. 190. The Sufis distinguish three organs of 
spiritual communication: the heart (r/ato), which knows God; the spirit (ruh) 
which loves Him; and the inmost ground of the soul (sirr), which contemplates 
Him. Nicholson, Mystics of Islam, p. 68. 

301 On al-Ghazall's interpretation of the function of the heait, see Macdonald, 
He}. Att. and Life in Islam, Lee. VIII (esp. p. 242); also p. 253. See Nicholson, 
Mystics of Islam, p. 70. 

sol Macdonald, Rel. Att. 'and Life in Islam, pp. 248-44; Nicholson, M*s. of 
IsL, p. 68; also pp. 8, 53. 

303 gee Nicholson, Mystics of Islam, p. 10 T, for the origin of Suflswi. 

304 Its oldest type is an ascetic revolt against luxury and worldliness ; lati*- 
on the prevailing rationalism and scepticism provoked counter-movements towaw 
intuitive knowledge and emotional faith. Nicholson, Mys. of Isl t p. 90 (For tV 
equivalents of ' ecstasy/ see p. 59). 


sorbed a portion of the reverence paid in orthodox Islam to 
Allah alone. 9allaj, indeed, had to pay the penalty of bis 
impious presumption with his life, but his Ana 'l-Jjtaqq 
(1 am the Real or God) lived on in the theories of hulul (fusion 
of being), ittihad (identification) and wusul (union) and of 
fana (passing away) and baqa (union witli the Divine 
consciousness or life in God). 305 Under the transforming 
hand of Sfifism the nature and function of Muhammad him- 
self underwent profound alteration. He became more and 
more assimilated to God and identified with the Divine 
Spirit find with Universal Reason, 306 and even prayers were 
offered to him to forgive and annul sins. 307 Man ceased to 
be regarded as a mere slave of Allah and the orthodox warn- 
ing against attempting to think of God in familiar terms 
as the Beloved, for instance was unheeded or ignored. 308 
The unity of God was conceived in a way which threatened 
to take away the reality of the Finite Spirit or else to expand 
it into, and identify it with, the Infinite. But while in Hin- 
duism the essential identity of the finite (jwd) and the in- 
finite (Brahman) dominated all religious speculation and be- 
lief, in Islam zealous orthodoxy lost no time in denouncing 

305 See Nicholson, The Idea of Personality in Sufism, p. 14 f; Mystics of 
Islam, p. 148 f. ; Studies in Isl. Mysticism, p. 125 f. ; Macdonald, Rel. Att. and 
Life in Islam, p. 48. Commenting on Sufi pantheism, Nicholson observes (Idea of 
Per. in Snfittm, p. 27) : " It would be a mistake to suppose tlmt utterances like 
the Subh&nt, " Glory to me," of Bayazld, the Ana'l-Haqq, " I am God,' 1 of 
HallaJ, and the Ana Itiya, " I ain She," of Ibnu 'J-Fftritf are in themselves evidence* 
of pantheism. So long as transcendence is recognised, the most emphatic ass er lion 
of immanence is not pantheism but pancntheism not the doctrine that all is God, 
but the doctrine that all is in God, who is also above all." (See also his Mytfiv* 
of Islam, pp. 18, 58 ; for the absence of ' self ' in a Sufi and its presence in a faqir, 
soe p 38). 

306 See Nicholson, Idea of Per. in Sufism, p. 60 f ; also My 8. Isl. t p. 82, which 
quotes the tradition " lie that hath seen me Lath seen Allah " (an obvious 
imitation of John 14.0). 

307 Nicholson, Idea of Per. in Sufism, p. 67. 

308 A quotation by Nicholson is instructive : " O my God, I invoke Thee 
in public as lords are invoked, but in private as loved ones are invoked. Publicly 
1 say, ' O my God I ' but privately I say, ' my Beloved ! ' " (Mys. of /*!., p. 8). 
See also p. 73 (quotation frotn Niffari) : " God is the qternal Beauty, and it lies 
in the nature of beauty to desire love." Ibid, p. 80. 


this pantheistic altitude of Sufi writers and in asserting 
that Allah's transcendence could not be questioned and man 
could not be raised to divine honours or identified with or re- 
lated to God : Allahu akbar Allah is greater than every-